Poutine – The comfort food of Northeastern Canada
Everyone loves a perfect French fry, right? And a dollop of tasty cheese? Not to mention a drizzle of your favorite brown sauce (maybe Grandma’s at Thanksgiving)? Well, put them together, and you have poutine, the classic Quebecoise dish of French fries doused in cheese and gravy.
Of course, if the exercise starts with soggy French fries, dull cheese and bad gravy, it reverts to being something that can pass only as a comfort food for those who crave it for some non-gustatory purpose.
Poutine is ubiquitous in Canada, particularly in the Northeast, turning up in even fancy restaurants, the way a perfect specimen of a grilled cheese sandwich might turn up as a garnish with a plate of some esoteric tomato concoctions in an upscale joint in NYC. It was actually quite delish when myMEGusta tasted it in that context at one of those places in Toronto a few years ago.
Visiting a very posh banking district in London last year, we stumbled upon an outdoor food court type of place catering to yuppie workers stepping away from their computers for a quick lunch break. Among the stands for scotch eggs and other such “comfort foods” was La Poutinerie, and their fare looked tasty, indeed, including “original”, with rib meat, spicy and vegetarian versions.
On the other end of the spectrum was Vancouver’s MegaBite Pizza, next to a McDonald’s, featuring this Canadian classic aside pizza and wings. No, we did not sample this one. There are even Poutine flavored potato chips.
Getting back to Northeastern Canada, a shipboard lunch companion and New Brunswick, Canada, native recently joked, as he poured some gravy over a bowl of French fries, “I am making my own poutine!” He went on to describe that his family’s poutine is an entirely different animal: cheese and gravy stuffed in to potatoes then deep fried, sounding almost like a croquette. Not the topic one expects to explore while dining on a French boat in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.