I tried poutine for the first time on Friday. Total and utter letdown. Granted, I had it at Swiss Chalet, the Boston Market equivalent in Canada, but still. This giant failure is analogous to someone ordering a taco at Taco Bell that doesn’t taste remotely like an actual taco. And, as you know, I’m usually into food porn, but the dish was so foul tasting that I couldn’t even bring myself to take its photo. Also, because I was with my new boss.
What is poutine, you ask? Poutine is a French Canadian snack that, at its basic, is made with french fries (nom!), gravy and cheese curds. It’s sort of like chili-cheese fries in the States, but not so much. The word means “mushy mess” in Acadian slang and was created in 1957 in Warwick, Québec. According to the people in the know, the french fries should be hand-cut and fried in pure lard, the gravy (also known as “BBQ chicken gravy”) should be dark and thick like molasses, and the cheese curds (apparently the most important part of the dish) should be only fresh, white, cheddar cheese curds. A veritable heart attack waiting to happen, nón?
I’ve been to both Montréal and Québec City — the epicenters of French Canadian cuisine — but failed to try poutine in either city. I’m usually the über-tourist, trying every local thing I can get my hands (and mouth) on, but for whatever reason, I didn’t try the gooey dish in either place. I’ll just have to go back.
I have heard so much about poutine in my almost two years in Canada that my expectations may have been impossibly high. So far, though, I’m disappointed. Swiss Chalet poutine = Fail!