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Poutine and the Province

by Archives January 27, 2009

Before moving halfway across the world to study at Concordia, I did a little research into Canada and Québécois culture. And out of everything I read about this city, I must admit it was this province’s comfort food of choice, poutine, which got me thinking. Poutine: what the hell is that?
Present day, Montreal. After a night of celebrating life, possibly a little too enthusiastically, and “enthusiastically” deciding to climb Mont Royal at 3 a.m., the poutine suggestion was thrown around. So down we climbed from the lookout, on the fabled quest to follow our stomachs to the mecca of all poutine places – La Banquise.
La Banquise rests on the top of a triangle made up of St. Denis and Mont-Royal. So it’s no surprise that at 3:30 in the morning it’s a busy place. The bright yellows and blues, despite being a little too bright at that time in the morning, still draw partygoers dressed to the nines with reddened eyes and slightly slurred words, who hope their mountainous dishes will send the hateful hangover fairy away. Or at least delay him.
Now, let’s be honest. As an Australian used to a basic diet of barbecued shrimp, fairy bread and beer*, I was very sceptical. Hell, as a human being I was sceptical. But in a moment of inspired genius (well, in hindsight I call it that) I dived straight into the fatty trinity of golden, crisp French fries, cheese curds and piping hot gravy. And god it was good. But where does this miracle hangover cure (believe me) come from, and what is its place in Canadian culture?
The dish’s origins aren’t quite clear, with many rural Québécois towns claiming creative rights. Most poutine followers, including those at CTV.CA, attribute the dish to the owner of a Warwick (near Victoriaville) restaurant. In 1957, Fernand LaChance allegedly made the first poutine after a trucker asked for French fries and cheese curds in the same bag. LaChance reportedly replied, “

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