A beginner's guide to 'poutine'
In French Canada, the unofficial national dish is something called poutine. Essentially, it’s chips (or “fries” to our North American friends), gravy and cheese curds—which sounds simple and uninspiring, but it’s so much more than that!
The cheese is a special kind of cheese that you can’t buy outside of North America. It’s called “cheese curds”, and the only way to describe it accurately is “squeaky cheese”. It’s quite firm and comes in small pieces, and when you bite into it makes an audible “squeak” noise against your teeth. You can buy it in small packs as a snack, or you can use it to create your own poutine at home. Fresh cheese curds don’t melt as quickly as other cheese, so when you assemble a poutine with hot gravy the curds stay solid.
You can order poutine in any restaurant in Québec. In fact, there are some restaurants that specialize solely in poutine: for example, there’s a famous restaurant in Montréal that stays open 24 hours a day, serving poutine to excited tourists and Montréal residents. The restaurant just celebrated its 40th birthday, which is a testament to poutine’s popularity.
You can get poutine in many varieties: you can switch the gravy for barbeque sauce; add chicken or seafood for a more “meaty” meal; or serve it with vegetables for a vegetarian treat. No matter what variety it comes in, though, it’s always delicious and irresistible. I would definitely recommend you try it if you ever come to Québec—just don’t eat too many!