The history of poutine

poutine

If you have ever wondered how poutine, the Canadian dish that combines French fries, gravy, and cheese curds, was created, you're not alone. Like most iconic foods, however, the origin story is murky and disputed. You can learn more about what is arguably Canada's second-most popular food export (after maple syrup) with Australian Gourmet Traveller's discussion of the history of poutine

The most frequently found version of the dish's origins goes like this: Eddy Lainesse, a regular patron of a restaurant in rural Quebec in the 1950s, described what he wanted to his waiter. The dish, however, didn't resemble anything on the menu. Allegedly, the proprietor responded to the request with "Ca va faire une maudite poutine!" (that's going to make a dreadful mess!). And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Less fanciful origin stories posit that the dish is a play on the British pub staple of cheese, chips and gravy or that there existed a dish of fries and cheese curds  known as 'mixte' that had gravy added at some point to become 'poutine'. Wherever the dish originated, we know that restaurateur Jean-Paul Roy trademarked the name 'poutine' in 1964. 

If you don't have a restaurant nearby that serves poutine, you can make the dish at home rather easily. Here are a few sample recipes from the EYB Library to get you started:

Chuck Hughes' awesome poutine from Food Network Magazine
Quick and easy poutine from Serious Eats
Poutine gravy from Canadian Living: The Ultimate Cookbook (pictured above)
Poutine from  BBC Good Food Magazine by Miriam Nice

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