Take a walk down the street after the bars let out in Montréal and you’re likely to find people filling up on poutine, a glorious high-calorie staple of greasy cuisine.
Poutine is an unapologetically savory cuisine consisting of the “holy-hoser trinity” of ingredients: french fries topped with fresh cheese curds and beef gravy. It’s second to none when it comes to a late-night snack. This meal is the polar opposite of “clean eating.” It’s messy and delicious.
A brief history of poutine
The origin of poutine is widely debated, much like the origin of the American hamburger. One prominent origin story goes that poutine comes from Warwick, Québec based on a restaurant customer’s request back in 1957.
The customer asked for French fries and cheese curds, both of which were separate items on the menu, to be thrown together in a bag because he was in a hurry. According to legend, when he looked inside the bag, he said “This is is a ‘poutine,’” which is Québécois slang for “a mess.”
The best poutine in Canada
Though poutine is associated with Montréal, it’s a staple across the Canadian provinces, and there are numerous restaurants, diners and food stalls where you can find it.
In St. John’s, Newfoundland, The Fifth Ticket serves up perhaps the best version of the classic. House-cut fries are topped with pan-roasted gravy and locally sourced cheese curds. You can’t go wrong.
La Banquise in Montréal is a 24-hour diner where you can also find delicious traditional-style poutine. But why not go a little crazy and try The Madness: poutine covered with mushrooms, spicy sausage, corn, red onions, sour cream, bacon and a jalapeno popper.
Another spot that gets creative with this cuisine is Wurst in Calgary, Alberta. One variation offered here is duck fat fries topped with speck gravy, truffle oil and a drizzle of green peas. You’ll have to loosen your belt a notch or two after this one.
To fork or not to fork
We know that the only way to eat French fries is with our hands. But poutine is an entirely different story. To eat poutine properly, you need to use a fork. Ensure that you’ve got the perfect ratio of French fries to cheese curds with each bite.