Friday, December 12, 2008

Poutine, or How I Learned to Stop My Heart and Love the Cheese Curd

I had heard a lot about this delicacy known only to Quebec. Some said it was a treasure, others warned me to avoid it at all costs. So what exactly is poutine? We strove to find out.

Wikipedia defines poutine as "is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy and sometimes additional ingredients."

While that is an accurate representation, it doesn't give the full story. Poutine, simply put, is comfort food. Every country has it and it is absolutely nothing of which to be ashamed. Everyone needs a food that offers warmth on a cold day or brightens our mood after a bad one. Poutine is simply the Canadian answer to this sociological staple.

We had poutine twice while in Montreal. Truth be told, that's all we could take physically. We tried it at two vastly different establishments. The first being a fancier restaurant, who deconstructed the poutine slightly and offered a unique twist to it. The second was a classic chain restaurant that served up the classic poutine with neither style nor panache.

So which was better? Well, neither really. Both offered a yummy dish on a cold day and both put smiles on our faces.

Regardless, do not be embarrassed to go for what is kitsch or easy when travelling. Sometimes they offer the most accurate insight into the heart of a nation.

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