Poutine – A Quebec bit of Lovely Delicious Mess

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.

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook