You never forget your first time. I sure can’t. Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about eating my first poutine in Canada! (OK, I’ll admit that word doesn’t necessarily make the phrase sound less dirty.)
I’ve been to Canada numerous times, but embarrassingly I didn’t realize poutine (POO-tin, just like the Russian president. Or in Western Canada, POO-teen.) was a thing until after returning home from visiting a friend in Toronto a couple years ago. By then, it was too late and I had missed out on the heavy, salty goodness. So my recent trip to Vancouver meant it was high time to try it. What is poutine, you may ask? Only the most delicious, yet disgusting-looking thing you’ve ever put in your mouth, my friend.
Poutine consists of thick-cut french (or Belgian) fries, cheese curds and gravy. It originated in Quebec and has made its way to the rest of Canada. Now you can get your poutine at any one of the countless restaurants serving it with any of the countless toppings. Pulled pork, fried chicken, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, bacon, etc. Lots of restaurants serve it as a side dish, but I wanted to visit a bona fide poutine-centric restaurant, La Belle Patate. You definitely do not go there for ambiance, you go there for the delicious poutine. As a cheese-loving (yet sadly, lactose intolerant) Wisconsin native, I can assure all the cheese curd lovers that yes, they squeaked. I got mine with “smoked meat,” which to Americans means “corned beef.”
There is, of course, the all-you-can eat option. But I figured I was already on track to get a heart attack from my small portion, so I didn’t want to opt for instant death with an endless portion. Yes, poutine looks like it was made in a garbage disposal, but it tastes like it was made in heaven. I don’t typically like salty or greasy foods, but for some reason this salty, greasy combo works. It really does. That’s probably why it’s such a good hangover or bar-time food. The dedicated poutine restaurants often stay open into the wee hours of the morning to accommodate the drunkards craving a hearty snack.
Go to Canada and try poutine. Be sure to get a fork and plenty of napkins. You can try to eat this beautiful mess like normal fries, but you’ll fail miserably. Stop being dainty and just dig in and eat the heck out of that hideous, delectable heap of goodness. It will forever change you.