The Power of Poutine

By Allison Gagnon   Trail Canada

An unsolved mystery remains adieu amongst a legend in Canadian culture. Through a genius moment of thought a historic event unravelled in which two men from two different towns both claim the fame. One day long ago, in the remote outskirts of Quebec, a concoction of the finest in greasy, heart-stopping ingredients was thrown together and there, a masterpiece was born. The experimental recipe succeeded in a glorious triumph, each bite oozing with squeaky-cheesy goodness; perfect for packing on those pounds as means for survival against the bitter, cold Canadian winter. Who knew, that the attraction of golden French fries and white-cheddar cheese curds smothered in a piping hot, rich brown gravy would affect Canadian cuisine as much as to be considered a classic cultural dish? An invention like no other, I invite you to taste a bit of Canada - poutine please?

Poutine (pronounced POO-TEEN) has been noted as a fatty Canadian specialty around the world. (Funny how we are also known for Canadian bacon eh? I think I’m beginning to see a trend.) Rumours and information conflict the actual origins of where poutine was first fathered, but both tiny Quebec towns stand their ground strong. In 2004 Fernand Lachance died proud at the age of 86 and was quoted by the Globe and Mail as the true “Mr. Poutine.” His hometown, Warwick, Quebec, sits in the heart of diary country and is known for its fine cheese production and the nearby infamous curd brand, Kinsey. Lachance’s version of the poutine legacy dates back to 1957 where they served a special request of fries and curds to a takeout customer at his restaurant Lutin Qui Rit. It is believed that Lachance responded “ca va faire une maudite poutine”. The translation: It will make one hell of a mess,” and viola - poutine and its meaning became a reality for the world to discover.

Jean-Paul Roy would protest against these accounts and claims that he is the real inventor of the classic recipe. Only 61 km away from Lachance’s restaurant in Warwick, a small fast food joint in Drummondville begins Roy’s chronicle of poutine. Le Roy de la patate (now Le Roy Jucep) opened in 1967 and served on the menu plain old “potatoes, cheese and sauce,” way before it officially had a name. The popular dish was accordingly named from the word “pudding”, poutine being the Acadian slang and similar in meaning.

Whoever it was that invented this sensational plate of potatoes, cheddar and gooey gravy deserves a pat on the back for job well done. Started in the small townships of Quebec, poutine is readily available across the nation. Its popularity is accompanied by new interpretations and exciting variations that individualize the recipe in accordance to where it is made ranging from gourmet to Italian. La Banquise in Montreal demonstrates a true poutine lovers heaven with their menu consisting of 22 different poutine possibilities.

Not only is Canada responsible for the birth of poutine, but we are also so accomplished as to hold the record for the worlds largest poutine. In December 2004, a CBC children’s television show “The X” staged in downtown Toronto, the “X Poutine Party”. They created a massive, overflowing bowl of
poutine weighing an incredible 808lbs. Now that’s my kind of meal.

Now that you’ve got a giant craving, here are a couple suggestions of where to satisfy your taste buds:

La Banquise - 994 Rue Rachel Est, Montreal, Quebec
If that desperate urge for poutine strikes at an inconvenient hour, this
poutine haven is at your service 24 hours a day. With 22 varieties to choose
from, you will be sure to find a favorite. Absolute poutine paradise.

Patati Patata - 4177 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal
This tiny eatery will make your poutine experience unique and enjoyable.
With a number of specialty poutine dishes and alternative choices, this
popular place is a favourite amongst both locals and tourists.

Chez Gerrard - 385 Boulevard Curé-la-Belle, Fabreville, Quebec
A poutine perfection exists here, equipped with their very own patented
“secret” sauce.

Elgin St. Diner - 374 Elgin Street, Ottawa
Rated Ottawa’s best place for poutine, this diner is open 24 hours and
located in the heart of downtown.

Fritz - 718 Davie Street, Vancouver

Award winning poutine and known for ‘the best poutine outside of Quebec”.

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