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Poutine, the 'Canadian' dish


Darienne
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Noted writers, Calvin Trillin and Blake Eskin, recently visited a NY restaurant to eat Poutine, that curious dish of French Fries, gravy & cheese curds and this was written up in the New Yorker November 23/09. 'The Poutine Perplex'. Poutine is not high minded eating, but it is something to remember. I've had poutine once...ordered by a table mate...I could never order it...it looks quite unappealing to me...and I have to confess that I loved it. We gobbled the poutine down in mere minutes. Straight to the hips and the heart.

Also noted...and dear to my heart...by the gentlemen above, the fact that Montreal bagles are NOT New York bagels. They are their own beloved bread item. Silly of me to care, but then I am a Montrealer in my heart forever and I bridled under the notion that Montreal bagels were simply New York bagels transported north across the border.

I would love to have a Montreal bagel and thank the heavens above that they are not available anywhere near to me. :raz:

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

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This reminds me of a funny story. I was eating at a restaurant in Montreal where everyone eats Poutine. An american woman sitting beside my table remarked to her companion that everyone was eating "potato soup".

Realize that I was born and raised in Montreal so it pains me to read articles such as these where the author calls Poutine "Canada's national dish". Poutine has its roots squarely in Quebec and although I haven't been to every city in Canada, I am certain you would not find Poutine on the menu of the simplest diner in Vancouver, Calgary, or even Toronto.

I also must mention that for those that are freaked out by this dish, you should not that it is very similar to what an American would call Chili fries.

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Greetings fellow Montrealer. :smile:

The two men did mention that not all Canadians want to claim poutine as their national dish. It was all a bit tongue in cheek...or mouth, I guess.

I ate poutine at a local bar in Peterborough.

I do recall driving the Quebec route from Haifax to Ontario and seeing poutine in a MacDonald's. That was more than eight years ago.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

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You can most certainly find poutine in Toronto and Kerry Beal and I tried our best to check out every Mom and Pop restaurant/cafe on Manitoulin Island to find the best poutine. Currently I believe even KFC offers their version of poutine. :rolleyes:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I guess it really comes down to how hard you try to find something. Friends that have moved to the Toronto area will occasionally complain about how hard it is to find a good poutine.

My point is that it simplifies an entire country when someone says that dish "x" is a national dish when it is still arguably a regional one. And this is coming from a Montrealer!

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Poutine outside of Quebec is likely to be made with some bad fries (McCains) and shredded cheese. Quite horrid, though you can get some good stuff at something like a chip truck sometimes.

The time I am totally unable to resist Poutine is while downhill skiing. Taking a mid-day break for some Poutine is truly heaven. A hill with bad poutine quality doesn't get returned to.

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Hi Paul

Great post. :cool:

We don't downhill ski anymore, but we do have a chip truck nearby...beside our little local library actually. And I think they make poutine. And we'll have some next time. They do make probably the BEST fries I have ever had...and this year they are staying open all winter. Huzzah!

Wednesday is usually fries for lunch day. Naturally our two pups like fries also, and they'll really go for poutine! (No, they are both slim, not overfed, etc, etc, for the horrified dog-lovers. :raz: )

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

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I am from the north of England and we eat what we call 'chips & gravy' (from my local chippy)

so if I added some curd to this it would be Poutine?

....I take it no salt and vinegar?

(it should be noted our live expectancy is almost at Scottish levels of lowness)

Edited by adey73 (log)
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Pretty much. To be good, the curds must be extremely fresh; same day or next day from whence they were made. They need to squeek when you bite them. I think the curds are from cheddar manufacture here.

Another variation (not poutine, but on the form) is the Newfoundland chip meal, the CDG, Or Chips, Dressing and Gravy. In this form the chips are piled on top of dressing (stuffing, as in poultry stuffing) and gravy added on top. Very fulfilling, especially for us dressing junkies. If you ever visit St. John's, Chess's has the best CDG there. Unlike these bigger cities, a place in St. John's that does not cut fresh potatoes the same day as use is considered a travesty; here, only a good chip truck will do that.

Edited by Paul Kierstead (log)
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I went to the restaurant mentioned in that article - T Poutine. It's actually pretty darn good, and they have lots of types, a southwestern Poutine with beans and beef, a dessert poutine made from sweet potato fries, maple syrup and cinnamon, etc.

The craziest thing about T Poutine, though, is that their cheese curds DON'T MELT! My favorite poutine spot (Bubba's in Kingston, ON) would always have the cheese curds turn into melty deliciousness...for some reason they just won't melt at T Poutine. I wonder why that is?

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I enjoy poutine from time to time, but it's no more "The Canadian Dish" than Quebec City is my National Capital.

My understanding is that this gravy-and-ketchup-on-curds-and-fries phenomenon started as "disco frites" somewhere in Montreal in the 1970's. I like the poutine at St-Hubert's BBQ, it's definitely not an everyday treat.

Speaking of National Capitals, George W. Bush once referred to the Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien as Jean Poutine.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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The craziest thing about T Poutine, though, is that their cheese curds DON'T MELT! My favorite poutine spot (Bubba's in Kingston, ON) would always have the cheese curds turn into melty deliciousness...for some reason they just won't melt at T Poutine. I wonder why that is?

As for the non-melting curds at T. Poutine's...I would say: don't ask. You really don't want to know. :laugh:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I had poutine at La Banquise earlier this year - bummmer. :sad: I'm from Chicago, where we've elevated humble pizza and hot dogs to transcendent works of art (or at least pretty darn good food), so maybe my expectations of poutine at such a well known place were unrealistic. (Bourdain - why have you led me astray!?!?) The fries and toppings were fine, but the gravy was lousy. I can't quite explain what I didn't like or exactly what I would prefer... The "gravy" just seemed unlike what I'm familiar with as gravy.

In general, poutine seems like a great idea, in an insane, vaguely suicidal way. I'll certainly try it again, just somewhere else...

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Chez Ashton close to Quebec City is said to be the best poutine. I've had it but cannot say that it is the absolute best. In Montreal I like Mondo Frites although I have not been there in several years. Their french fries in general were very good as was their gravy. But in terms of chain-diners, I'd have to say that Lafleur's is the best although others would say that La Belle Province is better.

I am not a big fan of the "fancy" poutines like the one served at Au Pied De Cochon in Montreal. They put a huge chunk of foie gras on top which is just too much in my opinion. Nothing is better than the classic brown gray, squeaky curd cheese, and soft fries.

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I am from the north of England and we eat what we call 'chips & gravy' (from my local chippy)

so if I added some curd to this it would be Poutine?

....I take it no salt and vinegar?

(it should be noted our live expectancy is almost at Scottish levels of lowness)

Interesting, chips and cheese seems to be the thing to eat in Leeds. We could make Poutine if only we could get Lancashire and Yorkshire together. Oh well, nevermind.

On a trip to Mayo in Ireland, the locals ate chips, curry sauce and coleslaw. Yes, it was as tasty as it sounded.

if food be the music of love, eat on.

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I ADORE La Banquise. I do like the basic poutine, but am very fond of Galvaude - chicken and peas! I also love APdC's foie gras poutine, the soul of excess. I haven't had poutine at Patate Patati but their fries are divine.

I hope that you had beer with your poutine. Someone should have mentioned that it's essential. I recommend Cheval Blanc.

I had poutine at La Banquise earlier this year - bummmer. :sad: I'm from Chicago, where we've elevated humble pizza and hot dogs to transcendent works of art (or at least pretty darn good food), so maybe my expectations of poutine at such a well known place were unrealistic. (Bourdain - why have you led me astray!?!?) The fries and toppings were fine, but the gravy was lousy. I can't quite explain what I didn't like or exactly what I would prefer... The "gravy" just seemed unlike what I'm familiar with as gravy.

In general, poutine seems like a great idea, in an insane, vaguely suicidal way. I'll certainly try it again, just somewhere else...

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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I hope that you had beer with your poutine. Someone should have mentioned that it's essential. I recommend Cheval Blanc.

Ah - that would have helped! Sadly, our server didn't mention it. Still, I'm just not a fan of that gravy.

So, note to self for future reference: try poutine again, with different gravy, and have a Cheval Blanc!

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I hope that you had beer with your poutine. Someone should have mentioned that it's essential. I recommend Cheval Blanc.

Ah - that would have helped! Sadly, our server didn't mention it. Still, I'm just not a fan of that gravy.

So, note to self for future reference: try poutine again, with different gravy, and have a Cheval Blanc!

In my life, it's always been Laurentide with the poutine.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 3 weeks later...

Poutine is sold virtually everywhere in Canada -- even in the backwoods of Alberta where we disdain virtually anything associated with Quebec. A&W sells it too. My favorite version has ground beef, cheese curds, peas, and lots of gravy -- often sold as "fries with the works".

And Canada's national dish? Beer.

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I am from the north of England and we eat what we call 'chips & gravy' (from my local chippy)

so if I added some curd to this it would be Poutine?

....I take it no salt and vinegar?

(it should be noted our live expectancy is almost at Scottish levels of lowness)

Interesting, chips and cheese seems to be the thing to eat in Leeds. We could make Poutine if only we could get Lancashire and Yorkshire together. Oh well, nevermind.

On a trip to Mayo in Ireland, the locals ate chips, curry sauce and coleslaw. Yes, it was as tasty as it sounded.

My Lancastrian cousins introduced me to "chips with cheese and gravy" in Wigan. Standard fare, there.

But here in Vancouver I have enjoyed many variations of poutine, some of them gussied up with blue cheese or foie gras, but others made very traditionally. The chef at Boneta is Quebecois and makes a dangerously good bowl full.

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My currently favoured poutine includes grilled chicken and banana peppers. Dixie Lee restaurants (a much better version of KFC which seems to be restricted to Eastern Quebec and Northern NB) introduced me to the fried chicken poutine. Poutine needs a protein to be a complete meal :biggrin: !

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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My Canadian spouse gave me the nickname Poutine before we met in person. It stuck. I dont even like the stuff as I dont eat beef gravy. We had a version at The Only On King in London a few weeks ago. Fingerling potatoes, pulled Berkshire pork and smoked gouda. The potatoes were roasted, I felt they would have been better if they were crispy.

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I hope that you had beer with your poutine. Someone should have mentioned that it's essential. I recommend Cheval Blanc.

Ah - that would have helped! Sadly, our server didn't mention it. Still, I'm just not a fan of that gravy.

So, note to self for future reference: try poutine again, with different gravy, and have a Cheval Blanc!

I think that the gravy is variable. I had an awful poutine - unworthy of the name! - at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington VT. The gravy tasted like it came straight out of a can.

Perhaps we can agree that a Quebois brew is most suitable avec the poutine?

Don't give up!

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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