May 29th, 2007

On Poutine


Collapse )Whether Montreal’s embarrassing but adored junk food does take root in New York, it may never attain the status it achieved earlier this year when the CBC revealed the results of a viewer poll on the greatest Canadian inventions of all time. Granted, poutine came in only at No. 10. But it beat, among other things, the electron microscope, the BlackBerry, the paint roller and the caulking gun, lacrosse, plexiglass, radio voice transmission and basketball.

(It's worth checking out the photos in the original article.) is mentioned in the article, and includes reviews. From their history page:
Poutine used to be considered embarrassing to the local French-Canadian population, known for excellent high-cuisine. Considered a low, rural food, it was thought to lack that cosmopolitan verve. But, with the rise of low-food popularity internationally, and the great interest of travelling gourmands in local recipes and low-foods, poutine has risen in local, as well as international interest. Nonetheless, the history of the embarrassment helps explain the difficulty in finding a good poutine, and why many people outside of Quebec have never heard of it.

Why would anyone consider eating poutine to be embarrassing? We don't know for sure, but it may stem from its association with the cheddar curds. In the eastern townships where poutine was invented (Warwick, Drummondville), it seems to have happened there due to the ready availability of these daily-fresh, briny curds, which people buy in small bags and snack on, like Doritos. It seems that some consider this to be a bit of a back-water habit - perhaps not unlike snacking on fried pork rinds in the American South. Take a back-water eating habit, and meld it together with a starchy plate of fried potatoes and a sauce, and, somehow the association rubs off.