Poutine – A Canadian Staple by Jenn Allen
To many, the thought of combining french fries with gravy and cheese curds is, well, unappetizing to say the least. To Canadians, however, this motley assortment of ingredients is one of the best loved regional dishes and many argue that it is even a national dish. Poutine can be found at restaurants, school cafeterias, fast food franchises and even in high end dining establishments as well as being a popular street food.
The actual birth place of poutine is often hotly contested, but there is no doubt that this dish was first created in Quebec in the 1950’s. Poutine quickly gained in popularity throughout Quebec and into the Maritime Provinces, but it wasn’t until the late 1970’s that poutine became available west of Quebec. By the late 1980’s poutine could be found just about wherever hot food could be purchased.
It didn’t take fast food franchises long to start selling poutine, but as true aficionados know, authentic poutine must be made with a thick, dark, beefy gravy and the cheese curds must be the real deal, not just a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese or processed cheese product made to melt quickly.
There are myriad variations on traditional poutine; it can be found with the addition of sausage and peppers, chicken, Montreal smoked meat and even truffles or caviar. No matter how it might be altered, poutine has become ingrained in Canadian food heritage and you’d be hard pressed to find anybody in the country who hasn’t tried poutine at least once.
Various establishments have tried to introduce poutine south of the Canadian border, but it has been met with limited success. For the true experience, drive across the border and stop at any food truck, chip wagon or restaurant and order poutine.