If you think of the Russian president when hearing the word “poutine”, you are right, but poutine also happens to be the perfect example of Canadian comfort food (food that makes you feel better). The dish consists of French fries topped with cheese curds and covered with gravy (a brown sauce made by adding flour to the juices that come out of meat while it is cooking).
The origin of poutine is uncertain. Different areas of Eastern Canada claim to be the birthplace of the dish. Yet, the chosen version is the one related by the inhabitants of Warwick, a town in Quebec. According to them, the creation of poutine can be traced back in 1957 in a little restaurant The Laughing Elf, runned by Ferdinand Lachance. One day, a take-out customer ordered French fries and cheese curds in a bag and asked Lachance to mix them. The restaurateur was rather surprised and said: “ Ca va faire une maudite poutine” (“That’s going to make a damn mess”). From then on the name has remained in English too and poutine became a popular dish. The word poutine is slang for mess in Quebec French.
In order to make poutine more of a gastronomic food, Martin Picard, a successful chef from Montreal, changed some of the ingredients. For instance, he added foie gras to the dish. At first, some chefs were ashamed to prepare it because it was looked down upon as being junk food only to be eaten late at night after a party. But thanks to Picard, poutine is now becoming more and more appreciated as a standard menu.
There are many variants of poutine, one of them is the Italian poutine, which replaces gravy by Bolognese sauce. Another example is the Greek poutine, which consists of fries, feta cheese and a warm Mediterranean vinaigrette. You can also find some restaurants in Montreal, which serve more upscale Poutine with three-pepper sauce, Merguez sausage, foie gras or caviar and even truffle.
Poutines are found with a wide range of styles; they are sold by fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King and popular restaurants serve them as well. It is easy to prepare at home (it only takes 25 minutes) and it is also a popular dish in high school cafeterias and at ski resorts.
de Broux Eléonore