Knight's Canadian Info Collection
Knight's Canadian Info Collection


Poutine 101

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(sorry this is so long, but necessary to give the whole recipe and story)

Poutine is a French-Canadian food that (very) slightly resembles American Gravy Cheese Fries (Uuukkkk), but is actually very, very different in many respects. Poutine is readily-available across Canada, but it only really tastes good in French Quebec or Maillardville, BC.

Warwick Quebec is the place where poutine was invented, and named, back in 1957 by restaurateur Fernand Lachance, who died recently at the ripe old age of 86, leaving not only his calorific imprint but also some serious questions about the low-carb fuss. Warwick still produces the very best cheese curds which is shipped all over Canada.

The best gravy also comes from Warwick, in a powder form that is mixed with water. Theirs is totally vegan and must be dark brown and just the right consistency when served.

Poutine is Acadian slang for mushy mess and is best described as a heart attack in a bowl.

By the way, there is a proper way to pronounce poutine, and it's not 'poo-teen'. The phonetic pronunciation is 'peu-tin', which always elicits a vacant stare when one orders it using that word.

The French Fries - The potatos must be hand-cut and very fresh. Fast-food-type fries will not taste quite as good. Also, you must fry the potatoes in pure lard. Vegetable oil and other politically-correct oils spoil the unique taste.

The Gravy - French-Canadian gravy (also known as BBQ Chicken Gravy) is very different than American gravy. First of all, it is very dark and thick, like molasses. Secondly, it has a very flavourful taste which cannot be described...very much like pepper and vinegar and other 'magical' ingredients. If you can stand a spoon straight up in it, it's good! Make sure it's very, very hot!

The Cheese - The cheese is the most important part of good poutine. You must use FRESH white, cheddar cheese CURDS. These curds have a taste and texture very different than actual cheddar cheese. The cheese curds will actually squeak in your teeth as you bite them. While curds are available in most Canadian supermarkets, they are not found in many American markets (the closest thing in taste is Mozzarella String Cheese - but don't use this stuff!).

When the curds are placed on the fries and the hot gravy is poured on top, the three flavors combine to produce what can only be described as the BEST junk food taste sensation on earth.

The Bowl - While different types of bowls are used, no one knows why, but poutine seems to taste better when served in a Styrofoam bowl. Perhaps the bowl keeps the heat inside to melt the cheese. Who knows? It tastes good no matter what bowl is used.

Places To Try Poutine - You can only get poutine in Canada.
Here are the suggested best places:

- Downtown Ottawa hosts some amazing, original recipe poutine. The 'chip wagons' are everywhere during weekday afternoons and some are around in the evenings and weekends. Local poutine makers use St. Albert cheese curds. In addition, many diner/junk-food restaurants around Ottawa and across the River in Gatineau also make some excellent poutine.

- In Montreal: look for a chain of fast-food joints called LaFleur (the flower).

- In Quebec City: look for any place that has a huge sign in front showing a bucket of fries.

- The best poutine In Quebec (so I have been told) is from the "Patates Plus", located on Pie-XI Boulevard in Val-Bélair, just south of CFB/BFC Valcartier.

- The Maritime Provinces (the Eastern ones) are now serving a good bowl of poutine. Look for it in most restaurants.

- There is an annual Poutine Festival that attracts about 15,000 people to Maillardville, BC each year. There is music, singing and dancing, art shows, storytelling and of course, 'genuine' French poutine. They also serve more traditional French fare, including pea soup, tortiere and maple syrup taffy rolled on snow.

- In British Columbia a few special places serve a version of poutine made with yellow-cheese curds - not nearly as good as the white-chedder version. But still yummy.

- Everyone will have their own favourate place - too many to list here.

- Elsewhere in Canada: New York Fries, Burger King, A&W and a few others serve a 'type' of poutine, but it's still a fast-food version. However, the basic elements are there.

- Avoid Shopping Mall and most other 'Fast Food poutine' at all costs. UUUKKKK!

Anyone hungry for a big bowl of poutine and a big mug of Root Beer?? Pure heaven on earth !


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