Have you had the pleasure of eating poutine? It is a culinary concoction of disgusting proportions, combining unlikely foods into a swirling mass of unexplainable deliciousness. It is not unlike the Elvis favored invention of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. You shouldn’t like it. You don’t want to like it. It is a carbohydrate infused diet disaster. You cannot resist.
We recently returned from Montreal, where poutine is a national treasure. I had heard of poutine, but never experienced it. It did not sound appetizing. Basically, poutine is a plate of French fries, topped with cheese curds, and covered with gravy.
Supposedly the dish was invented by a man who walked into a bar and asked for cheese curds on his order of fries with gravy. He tasted it and declared ” Quelle poutine” which translates to “what a mess.”
We were barely into Canada when poutine started showing up on the menu. We asked a hotel clerk in London if people in Ontario ate poutine. Her face lit up, her eyes glistened and she exclaimed, “hella yah!”
It was late, and we hadn’t eaten dinner. The only place open was a pub. On the menu? Poutine. The guys ordered it, but I thought it looked disgusting. I will eat French fries, but not often. I am from Wisconsin and my grandfather was a cheese maker, so cheese curds are in my blood, but I don’t like gravy, and the thought of covering my cheese curds with gravy was not appealing.
Once in Montreal, poutine was on the menu nearly everywhere. Our friend Marion wanted to take us to her favorite restaurant. It was La Banquise, an entire restaurant dedicated to poutine. Like an American greasy spoon, it is open 24 hours and specializes in over 30 kinds of poutine with names like T-REX with beef, pepperoni, bacon and hot dogs, La Reggae with ground beef, guacamole, tomatoes and hot peppers, and La Elvis with ground beef, green peppers and mushrooms.
I succumbed to La Elvis. When in Rome…or as the case may be in Montreal…
It was delicious in a really good bar cheeseburger sort of way. The line outside the door testified to the popularity of the restaurant. We left stuffed and happy, poutine converts all.
This week I was at a conference in Des Moines. A friend and I were at a high end tapas restaurant where the menu included poutine with duck confit. It was, to say the least, an unlikely choice both for Des Moines, and for a high end restaurant. I know duck confit as a French gastronomic delicacy that takes several days to make. The addition of duck confit to French fries is not expected.
My friend was skeptical, but we ordered it. It was, as they say, “c’est magnifique,” a beautiful mess indeed.
Have you tried poutine? Did you like it? I’d love to hear about your adventures with poutine! Join is in a conversation below!