Greasy fries layered with squeaky cheese curds bathed in hot gravy is nothing less than a gastronomical munchies tour de force
Tim was visiting from Australia and after smoking a fatty, we attempted to make a shortlist of all gotta-do things Canadian—the essence of the Canuck experience. The discussion went astray and wound up smack in an overflowing bowl of poutine. How do you describe la poutine to the uninitiated? Fortunately Darcy broke it down for us real easy-cheesy.
The first ingredient of poutine—which by the way comes from the French word for nasty stew—is cheese curds. And what, you may ask, are cheese curds? They are the by-product leftover after making fresh cheddar cheese. Little squeaky turds of flotsam navigating the big cheese barrel. Next come the French fries—big, greasy, hand-cut and deep-fried in perfectly seasoned oil. Finally the topper—gravy. To understand the gravy component, you must first be familiar with a hot chicken sandwich. That’s the classic lunch special served at greasy spoons—a chicken sandwich made with super-soft white bread buried in canned peas and flooded with gravy.
Start with a layer of cheese curds on the bottom, followed by a thick layer of fries, topped with another layer of curds. Now drown the whole thing in hot gravy.
So how do these three ingredients come together in a dish of salty, chewy, stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction? Listen up because you get extra points for presentation. La poutine is served in a deep-dish Styrofoam container. This is the preferred vessel. Start with a layer of cheese curds on the bottom, followed by a thick layer of fries, topped with another layer of curds. Now drown the whole thing in hot gravy. This will melt the cheese. Dig in quickly before the fries get too soggy.
La poutine can be found at reputable hamburger joints (casse-croûtes) or greasy spoons everywhere in Quebec. It has gained converts throughout Canada and the States and even McD’s has picked up on its popularity. Once you get a couple of these gravied delicacies under your belt, you’ll be ready to expand your culinary repertoire and try some of the variations like poutine italienne, which is essentially your regular poutine, hold the gravy and add spaghetti sauce, or poutine smoke meat, which touts the addition of smoke meat to the mix. Poutine, bar-none, is the ultimate munchie satisfaction in a Styrofoam cup.
Le Big Bird: Take a double cheeseburger, put it on a big-ass plate, then bury it in poutine till you can’t see it no more. Dig in! (Smoke two joints before attempting Le Big Bird. Not for the weak of heart.)