As I hitch-hiked across Canada a few years ago some of the most remarkable experiences were utterly un-writeable, but one that was – was being picked up and toured through the Canadian Rockies by a retires park ranger.
I asked him to take a picture of me at Lake Louise and he did, but he also managed to take this one with half a Canadian stranger in it.I like this one better, actually. the funny thing is I think that stranger even looks a little like me…which might explain things.
I must share something wonderful, just in case you have never heard of it.
Poutine. I just had my first at Chez Aston, a fast food Poutine joint.
Poutine is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy and sometimes additional ingredients.
Poutine is a diner staple which originated in Quebec and can now be found across Canada. It is sold by fast food chains (such as New York Fries, Harvey’s, Ed’s Subs), in small “greasy spoon” type diners (commonly known as “cantines” or “casse-croûtes” in Quebec) and pubs, as well as by roadside chip wagons. International chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King also sell mass-produced poutine.
Popular Quebec restaurants that serve poutine include Chez Ashton in Quebec City, La Banquise in Montreal, and Dic Ann’s Hamburgers. Along with fries and pizza, poutine is a very common dish sold and eaten in high school cafeterias in various parts of Canada.
I had the poutine mini avec sauces picante and I must say that while it looks like a horrible tasting mess…actually, it is …delicious.
The dish originated in rural Quebec, Canada, in the late 1950s. Several Québécois communities claim to be the birthplace of poutine. One often-cited tale is that of Fernand Lachance, from Warwick, Quebec, which claims that poutine was invented in 1957, when a customer ordered fries while waiting for his cheese curds from the Kingsey cheese factory in Kingsey Falls. Lachance is said to have exclaimed ça va faire une maudite poutine (“it will make a damn mess”), hence the name. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm longer.
And finally…you just gotta love Quebcois.
In a Talking to Americans segment on the television series This Hour Has 22 Minutes during the 2000 American election, Rick Mercer convinced then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush that Canada’s Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, was named Jean Poutine and that he was supporting Bush’s candidacy. A few years later when Bush made his first official visit to Canada, he said during a speech, “There’s a prominent citizen who endorsed me in the 2000 election, and I wanted a chance to finally thank him for that endorsement. I was hoping to meet Jean Poutine.” The remark was met with laughter and applause.
In Quebec, the fact that Russian politician Vladimir Putin’s surname transliterated into French is “Poutine”, has predictably been exploited by various comedians. Another running gag, during the US presidential election, based on the fact that McCain is a brand of fries, was that it would make a “McCain poutine” if he was elected and they met..
It’s quite the Quebec thing. A bit like Loco Moco in Hawaii…but different…same heart attack though.
One of the more fun and adventurous things I’ve ever done was hitching my way across Canada with just a couple of bucks. It was never something I intended to do, but circumstances sometimes lead to unexpected adventures.
When I got to North America though, the job I’d come for was already gone. My funds had been pretty much exhausted just getting to Canada and it seemed that my best option was to get back to the West Coast of the USA where I knew people, had family, and might even be able to find some work.
So, that’s how I ended up hitching from Eastern Canada to Western Canada. I did end up going to the USA again and managed to make enough money to get back to Canada and then back to Europe, and back to my bride in Morocco.
This Vagobond Travel Museum is just going to cover the Canada portion of all that – arriving, exploring, heading west and then coming back east to leave again.
I hope you enjoy this particular trip as much as I did.