Where: Created in Quebec, Canada c. 1957
Origins: A curious patron’s request to a French chef – who later found his fame with the ‘damn mishmash’ which has now been adapted throughout Canada as a national fast food staple
Ingredients: Fries, cheese and gravy
Taste: Calorific, mon dieu
If you asked a Quebecois for something to eat that was traditional, Poutine – pronounced poo-teen – is what they would give you. Poutine consists of French fries, topped with cheese curds and covered with thick, rich, meaty gravy. If you can’t stand your spoon up in this stuff, forget it.
Origins of Poutine
The origins of this coronary-inducing delight are of great interest to Poutine lovers. Fernand Lachance, a Quebecois restaurateur in Warwick, Quebec, made the culinary leap in the 1950’s. A patron asked for fries and cheese curds mixed together at which Lachance exclaimed it would be a “Maudite Poutine” – a damn mishmash. Despite his reservations, Lachance decided to top the lot with gravy and sell it as a new dish – poutine. In 1957 Lachance opened his new restaurant “The Smiling Elf” and Poutine was top of the menu. The rest, as they say, is history.
Debate still rages on as to the ingredients of authentic poutine. Poutine connoisseurs will tell you that the cheese curds must be of certain variety, the fries must be cooked in a certain way, and the gravy is important too – preferably from roast beef or duck. There are many variations on the Poutine theme, including a spicy Italian version and galvuade – Poutine with peas and chunks of chicken.
Recipe for Poutine
Poutine tastes best from a styrofoam box, eaten with a plastic spoon, but if you insist on making it yourself, follow the process below:
Cheese Curds (Stilton, Mozzarella, and cheddar are all acceptable)
Gravy (the thicker the better)
Mix them all together and et voila!
Where To Get a Bowl of the Good Stuff
Quebec is the Poutine motherland. If you are in Montreal, look for a chain of fast-food restaurants called LaFleur. Any Quebecois will tell you that the further you get from Quebec the worse the Poutine gets but it’s a staple food-stuff all over Canada.
By Dan Porter
main image: By Yuri Long from Arlington, VA, USA – road_trip-9349.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19029778