Trying poutine for the first time

If you want Canadian cuisine (and not the Canadian habit of flavouring everything maple or cinnamon), there’s only one real contender for the crown of ‘most Canadian’. The poutine.

Sketch of a plate of canadian poutine
Poutine from a local diner

Ok, maybe ‘most Québécois’, the home state of this beloved fast food. It’s simple and weird, like something thrown together when the kitchen cupboards are almost empty and you need to improvise a makeshift dinner. What lands in front of you is a heap of limp fries smothered with gravy and cheese curd. I don’t know exactly what cheese curd is, but it’s sort of like eating strips of white rubber. It looks something like this:

There are also a range of other topping options, like various meats and vegetables and sauces. Poutine is not exactly sophistocated, and won’t win any beauty contests either, but that’s not the point. Compare it to McDonald’s breakfast when you’re hung over; tastes great at the time, but you know you’re body is protesting!

Sketch of a plate of canadian poutine
A beef and bacon poutine

It’s a fattening comfort food for those icy cold evenings, or if you’re starving and need something heavy to recharge your carbohydrates back to full. When you finish, it feels like you’ve just swallowed a cinderblock. Just don’t eat one every day. There’s even a ‘poutine week’ in February!

During the 2000 American election, Canadian comedian Rick Mercer posed as a reporter. He travelled throughout the country, staging interviews, and fooled several prominent politicians that the name of the Canadian Prime Minister was Jean Poutine (actually Jean Chrétien). Among them was George Bush, who years later acknowledged the gag he fell for.

Near Parc LaFontaine is the most gourmet poutine in town. La Banquise restaurant on Rue Rachel in Montreal serves a fine poutine, with over 25 flavours. They’re all based on the same basic recipe, but some of the toppings are quite imaginative. The small size is more than enough for the average human!

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