Dear America: The Poutine has landed
Dear America: sure, you have big-assed portion sizes and an overabundance of processed foods. Be aware, there is a far better, All-Canadian way to clog your arteries and send yourself straight in for a quadruple bypass. A delicious, gooey, cravetastic quadruple bypass.
It's called Poutine. Delicious poutine. And it's coming to a fine American dining establishment near you.
(For the record, it's not pronounced "poo-teen", although if you get too far away from Quebec that's all you're going to hear. It's "Pou-tin", you Anglos.)
For the uninitiated, poutine is a simple creation. French fries. Cheese. Gravy. But there is truly an art to it, and those who don't know the art generally make a dog's breakfast out of the whole thing. Optimally, poutine starts with fresh-cut french fries, not too thick, not too thin, deep fried to a delicate crispy brown. When removed from the bubbling oil, the still-sizzling fries are scooped in to a container (usually of the styrofoam persuasion if, like me, your usual purchase of poutine is done from the chip truck on the corner. Ecofriendly, not so much). The fries are then sprinkled with a handful of heavy, chunky cheese curds. This part is crucial. If your eating establishment uses shredded cheese, just back away slowly. Not only is it usually the wrong kind of cheese - generally they use mozzarella, and for poutine you need something sharper, something that bites back - but the way shredded cheese melts results in is a thick, soupy mess instead of the gourmet goodness you're going for. No, no, you need real, chunky, squeaky white cheddar curds that will melt into oozy, gooey globs once the whole mess is lovingly assaulted with lashings of thick, smooth, glistening brown gravy. And none of this gourmet gravy, no "Guinness" gravy or any such egotistical indulgence. Plain, homestyle gravy. Ladle it over the curds and the steaming hot fries. Then serve it up with a plastic fork and a big glass of lager. Or if, as is so frequently done in this country, you're eating the poutine after you've already consumed probably far too much lager, then serve it with a ginger ale, the perfect compliment to the richness of the dish.
Jealous? Of course you are. And now, America, you can get poutine in your very own back yard. The (obviously better) establishments in New York City have added it to the menu, and there's even an entire establishment dedicated to providing the masses with poutine. It's called tpoutine, located on the lower east side in Manhattan, and it's run by a former Quebecois model. Who obviously does not consume that much poutine if he's still modelling.
But that is beside the point; the point is, this uber-Canadian dish is taking Manhattan by storm. This gooey, gloppy, calorie-laden mess is rubbing shoulders with the Sex and the City ladies. Is it a sign of the times, of the rough economic atmosphere, that sushi is out and fries are in? Is it that we all really just need to find some good, heavy, solid comfort food? Or is it that we're sick of pretension, of paying a fortune for a meal that has ingredients you've never heard of, of eating fancy imported pieces of animal with some froufrou sauce that you're supposed to pretend to love because some critic said you should? Perhaps. And instead, we are moving in completely the opposite direction - Potatoes. Cheese. Gravy. Simple. Easy. Uncomplicated.
Or maybe, just delicious.