Poutine and I

The secrets that engage me — that sweep me away — are generally secrets of inheritance: how potatoes,cancerous oil and gluttony become Poutine, for instance, rather than french fries...

-Modified from Cynthia Orzik

A recent visit to Canada had me vying for the ultimate Canadian dream; eating poutine with two forks and no fear of public shaming. While the trip also included classics like the Tim Hortons and Swiss Chalet (see pics below), the gold was always poutine.

Thank you my friendly dunkin donut imposter

Thank you my friendly dunkin donut imposter

A gloppy, caloric layering of French fries, fresh cheese curds (a byproduct of Cheddar making) and gravy, poutine goes deep into the Quebequois psyche. Somehow, Quebec’s rural roots, its split identity (Acadian farmers or Gallic gourmets?) and its earthy sense of humor are all embodied by its unofficial dish.

Poutine: Clog my heart with love

The dish tasted just right — so authentic that the cheese curds emitted a faint “squeak, squeak” when bitten into — the telltale sign of a proper poutine. But the jovial chef serving them had an Ontario accent. Even more disconcerting: He was wearing the hat of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, the archrivals of the Montreal Canadians.

“Poutine is Quebecois; it is not Canadian,” said my Canadian colleague who’s also a poutine-obsessed scientist from Montreal, recently describing her visit to the food stall and adding her voice to a simmering debate over poutine’s true identity.

“Calling poutine ‘Canadian’ makes me feel very uncomfortable because Quebec has a distinct culture and history from the rest of Canada, and poutine is a strong symbol of that.” Maybe she is right.

My trip was a success. I ate Quebec’s culture. I am with the Poutine.

Until Next Time!

Jai


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