In Canada, the first week in February is La Poutine week.
Poutine (poo-TEEN) is a popular Canadian potato dish: French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It’s the northern version of cheese fries, with brown gravy instead of ketchup; and is often referred to as the national dish of Canada.
Decades ago, it became popular in Quebec as a snack to follow a night of drinking. Of course, it begs to be accompanied by a cold beer.
During La Poutine Week, chefs at restaurants across Canada will pull out all the stops to out-poutine the classic poutine. Last year, a Toronto sushi bar added caramelized kimchi, beef tongue and Japanese mayo; an Ottawa pub featured poutine made with pulled pork, pork meatballs and cheese with bacon bits, topped with a Jack Daniels sauce. Vegetarian restaurants did their own thing.
Year-round, La Banquise in Montreal serves more than thirty different kinds of poutine. It’s open 24 hours daily. Here’s the menu.
This recipe from French’s makes adds shredded barbecue beef and a fried egg (French’s used its company’s Cattlemen’s Memphis Sweet Finished BBQ Sauce). Make it, or create your own.
As for a matching beer: Cold Snap from Sam Adams sounds just right. The unfiltered white ale has a snap of added flavor: fruit including orange peel, plum and hibiscus, and a peppery snap from fresh ground coriander.
RECIPE: BARBECUE BEEF POUTINE
1. FRY the French fries to a crisp, golden brown and arrange on a platter.
2. COMBINE the beef with barbecue sauce and heat. Sprinkle over the fries.
3. SLICE the cheese curds in half and top the fries. Melt in a hot oven.
4 TOP with the egg and scallions. Serve.
Various places claim the credit for inventing poutine, in rural Quebec in the 1950s, where numerous dairies produced Cheddar cheese curds.
The first leg of the story is that poutine originated in a restaurant called Le Lutin Qui Rit (“The Laughing Goblin”), when a customer asked the owner Fernand Lachance to mix cheese curds with his fries.
A restaurant called Le Roy Jucep is the first to have served poutine as we know it today—French fries, cheese and gravy—in 1964. The owner registered a trademark for the dish.
Another restaurant La P’tite Vache (“The Little Cow”) sold curds from the local Princesse dairy. Customers would order fries and buy a bag of cheese curds to mix together at their tables in a 50:50 proportion. When gravy was added, the dish became known as “mixte” (“mixed”).
The name “poutine” appeared in 1982, when large restaurant chains began to sell it. While no one can explain the derivation for certain, it could be derived from the English word “pudding,” which was expressed as “pouding” in Acadian French.
One meaning of “pouding” in Canada is “an unappetizing mixture of various foods, usually leftovers.” According to Merriam-Webster, poutine derives from a Quebecois slang word meaning “mess.” [Source]
We vote for that one!