As a student on the Burlington campus, I’d hear stories about what school was like in Montreal; the festivals, the snow, and plenty of work to do. But the one thing that no one ever disagreed on was the fact that I’d have to try poutine. In the semesters leading up to my time abroad, I’d never been able to get an accurate description of what poutine actually was, aside from “it’s like french fries, but with gravy” or “it doesn’t matter, it’s delicious.” However, I’m here today to debunk the myths and sing the praises of this classic Quebecois staple.
Fact number zero: It’s delicious.
Fact number one: Poutine is composed of french fries (usually about medium thickness), fresh cheese curds, and a thin brown gravy, in that order. The gravy goes on top of the cheese, and should be able to filter down evenly through the fries. The majority of poutineries offer several variations on this recipe, usually with toppings like ground beef, smoked meat, or pulled pork (one of my favorites!).
Fact number two: literally every place that serves food in Montreal serves poutine*. It might even be a local law, I’m not sure. What this means for you, the reader, is that the next time you visit Montreal, or if you spend the semester studying here, you have no excuse not to eat it. In fact, you could probably eat it every single day without getting tired of it due to the endless variations (but please, consult your physician before you try that.) Some of the highlights I’ve found so far:
Double Pizza: Not to be confused with Pizza Pizza, this pizza chain serves a really solid poutine you can grab in a pinch, for cheap. I imagine that this is what poutine would taste like in NYC, if America was capable of making it properly. This poutine is good for grabbing a bite to eat between classes.
Frite Alors: Dedicated to serving a variety of poutine in a friendly environment, this chain is a great place to go to with some friends as an impromptu outing. Maybe your 6PM class got cancelled and you want to go out to celebrate? Head to Frite Alors for a reasonably priced meal. I recommend the large pulled pork poutine (there will be plenty to take home for lunch tomorrow).
La Banquise: So far in my search, La Banquise is the king of the poutineries. With 28 varieties, a 24 hour schedule, and killer playlists, this is the ultimate place to really experience a true Montreal poutine. If you’ll only be in the city for a day or two (or need a place to take your parents when they visit), a trip to La Banquise should be number one on your list. For first timers, the classic poutine will turn them into a believer.
Fact number three: It’s insane that America hasn’t figured this out yet. Seriously though, there is a huge opportunity for the first American restaurant owner to properly bring this dish to the states in a big way. I know they’ll get my business.
And that’s pretty much all I can teach you to get you started on your very own poutine journey. There rest is up to you.
*this is not confirmed, but still highly likely
– Jak Tiano, Game Design Major, Official Blogger, Spring 2014