A true delicacy of Quebec - french fries covered in gravy and cheese curd. I can almost hear my arteries clogging as I type this. Outside of Quebec, most easily found at a Burger King, though the poutine there is somewhat akin to being downright vile.

Similar to poontang but with less anal rape.

I've never heard of Harvey's before.

Unless you can eat the mass of poutine before entropy takes over and the amalgam cools down, poutine might well be as fatal as the Japanese mochi, a pounded glutinous rice cake that sticks fatally in the gullets of hundreds on New Year's. Timing is essential. You must burn your lips, your tongue, the lining of your throat if you want to eat poutine. But best advice is: Just say NO.

Several variants of standard poutine (french fries, cheese curds, and gravy) are known to exist in the wild. Some other heart-stopper varieties include:

The best poutine in Montréal can arguably be found at Mama's, a little dinery on the North side of Avenue des Pins, right at Rue Clark, a block west of Boulevard Saint-Laurent. They serve poutine in these large take-out covered trays that will keep you going all day.

Outside of Québec, A&W sells a poutine that is marginally better than that served by Burger King (inasmuch as cardboard tastes better than plastic). I passed by a KFC the other day and noticed them advertising poutine. I have yet to work up the courage to try this.

Poutine is a feminine noun. Thus we say "une poutine" or "la poutine".

Ma'ame Bolduc, on deLorimier street in Montréal, makes many kinds of poutine with various ingredients, the deadliest of which is arguably "La galvaude", with minced meat and mushrooms added to the usual cheese and gravy.

The gravy should of course be poured after the cheese in order to make it melt appropriately.

The cheese used to make poutine is sold throughout Québec in convenience stores, called "dépanneur", where it is not refrigerated but kept at room temperature to give it a characteristic squeakiness.

Any attempt to tell a Québecois where the best poutine can be found will immediately spark an intense and inextricable debate.

You know you want to try it. This is the best version of poutine that I've come up with.

Ingredients:

  • One packet McCain's or similar frozen french fries
  • One can mushroom gravy (you can also use beef gravy, or make your own if you're ambitious)
  • One bag cheese curds (if you don't live in Quebec, try a mixture of mild cheddar and mozzarella, either shredded or, preferably, cut into very small pieces)

Bake the french fries as per packet directions, but leave them in the oven a few minutes longer than directed (keep an eye on them though). A few minutes before the fries are done, heat up the gravy on the stove. When the fries are done, mix them with the cheese in a bowl. Pour the gravy over the top and mix again.

This is a pretty ghetto starving-Quebecois-student recipe. There are all kinds of fancy-ass variations (spaghetti sauce poutine, smoked meat poutine, and so on) that are possible.

By the way, Patati Patata has the best vegetarian poutine in Montreal

Poutine is the most sinful food one can ingest, or inject, for the more serious enthusiast. By definition, poutine consists of French fries, curded cheese, and gravy. Yet, can man not be described as a goop of molecules arranged in a certain way? The spirit of man, as the essence of poutine, is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Poutine done right

The interested chef must select each ingredient with utmost care. The full flavor of a poutine can only be appreciated when Prince Edward Island potatoes are used. Further, the fries must be laced with a crusty envelop of grease. The best way to accomplish this is by using old oil. Simply save the oil used to fry your potatoes for another day. Repeat the process until your oil is disgustingly dark. Baking is heresy.

Cheese curds are distinctively Quebecois, and so can be hard to come by in some locales. If you cannot appropriate some, then cease and desist all poutine-related activities and move on to another project.

A real poutine will be drenched in gravy that is both thick and spicy. The darker and thicker sauces tend to make for the best poutines.

I give up

Dear reader, if you cannot find the time to locate all of these select ingredients, or you fear starting a fire with all that dirty oil, then I invite you to sample the best poutine the world has to offer. As of this writing, the price is $3.25CND for a large aluminum bowl filled with your favorite treat. Here is how to find it:

Get to any metro station on the island of Montreal. Head towards the orange line and get off at the Cote Vertu terminus. Upon getting out, you will be at the intersection of Decarie Boulevard and Cote Vertu. Walk up Decarie on the left side of the road until you come across a tiny little restaurant called Decary Hotdogs. Ask for a poutine. Get a fork from one of the cardboard boxes tucked into the side. Dig in.

This restaurant, if you can call it that, is very much off the tourist path. The touristy "poutine" joints Downtown charge far too much for a mediocre product. If you give Decary Hotdog's poutine a shot, then give me a holler and thank me for the tip.

To add to the sticky, cheesy mass of poutine writeups above:

Mes Aieux, on their album En Famille, have a song entitled Hommage en Grains, which actually says a lot about poutine, from its history to its unique texture, the cheese, and how and when to eat it. My (somewhat lacking, I admit) translation is below:

When "last call" time comes around
And the neon lights come on
Exposing our pale tones
Extinguishing our ambitions
When going to sleep
Isn't a solution
Our muddled brains
Only see one solution

Potatoes, gravy, and cheese
Make an excellent combination
Past three-thirty in the morning
It's haute cuisine

The waitress is perky
Despite the late hour
And from under a ton of hairspray
She hands us her menu
And our salivating eyes
Read the definitions
Of alternative versions:
Italian, Galvaude or Duleton

Potatoes, gravy, and cheese
Make a happy marriage
Yes, I'll admit, it's a little fatty
But it 'repatches' the stomach

I will never break the object of my ecstasy
The perfect equilibrium of the three base elements
It's on the classic that I fix my choice
I'm not one of the eccentrics who adds green peas
In the unbearable wait of the supreme blowout
All around the table ask the ultimate question:
From what corner of the earth comes this master delight?
Opinions differ - Drummondville or Victo (Warwick)
Then the feast arrives with its plastic fork
Finally under the gums, the cheese goes "squeak-squeak"
And even if politeness dictates slowly eating one's bowl
You still have to eat quick, before the fries go soggy

Potatoes, gravy, and cheese
Form a powerful amalgam
It's like eating a pound of butter
But Montignac doesn't frighten us

Ah! What joy to know
That all throughout Quebec
At the same time, every night
The experience repeats itself
Drunken wrecks
Drown the alcohol with gravy
And with ballooning stomachs
And belching will dream (Dream of...)

Potatoes, gravy, and cheese
It's fattening... what a shame!
Potatoes, gravy, and cheese
A part of our heritage
Potatoes, gravy, and cheese
We give to you this homage...

(en grains!)*


* This bit I'm not sure how to translate, but I'm sure some francophone noder will enlighten me shortly.

In the US we call them ‘Fries”, in Britain they are “Chips”, but in Canada the humble potato reaches new heights when it becomes “Poutine”. (Pronounced Pooh- Tin by most Southern Canadians)

Don’t let the French name fool you; this is anything but an elegant dish. Put simply, the Poutine is generous order of French fries, covered with brown gravy and a soft white cheese. It is often served up as a main dish.

Fernand Lachance of Warwick, Quebec is generally given credit for the invention of the Poutine, way back in 1957. A reminder to all of us, that childhood obesity is a very recent concern.

In any case, the “True” Poutine is made of the finest and freshest of ingredients. The potatoes used for the fries must be fresh and hand-cut into thick strips. These must be fried in the purest lard available (Have I mentioned that the Poutine is oblivious to calorie counting and fat grams?). The the freshly fried strips, crispy yet tender, are then heaped in a bowl (Large portions are mandatory). Moments before serving, the fries are covered in a mountain of fresh-that-day cheese curds and then drenched in a homemade sauce brune. You will know if your curds are appropriately fresh, if they occasionally squeak between your teeth .

As with most mainstays of the North American diet, the Poutine has been adopted and simplified by the fast food industry, where it often appears as the just their standard French fries covered in thin layers of canned brown gravy and imitation mozzarella cheese. They kept the fat content, but not the taste.

Therefore, I strongly suggest, that you try your first poutine at one of the “Spud Buggy” or chip stands you will find in every small canadian town. While you may not be served a “True Poutine”, you will get the freshest, most favorable version that is available outside of Quebec.

Come on America, open you minds and your mouths, it can’t be any worse for you than a Big Mac!!

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