La Poutine Week may still be fighting its way to National recognition, but for Quebecois Canadians there’s no doubt that it exists! According to the BBC, La Poutine Week all started in 2013 by who else but a food blogger, Naeem Adam.
The celebrations run through the first week of February in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and other locations, historically one of the toughest weeks of the year for restaurants. So, it didn’t take a lot of encouragement for them to get on board. And now, it’s one of the best weeks for some. (Click here for the Poutine Week events schedule)
If you’re not sure what poutine is all about, it’s simple: home made french fries, squeaky cheese curds, and gravy. That’s not to say it can’t turn into a gourmet dish with the right chef tossing in a few additional ingredients, as you can see with this 2016 photo display on Adam’s website.
There’s a lot of debate about how poutine became the almost quintessential Canadian food — in fact, some even call it Canada’s National dish. By all accounts it likely originated outside Montreal, in a small community called Warwick back in 1957, some 60 years ago.
Best Poutine on the Quebec City Food Tour
Quebec City is well known for its food — and fine dining is one of the things that continues to pull me back to explore it, and other parts of the province. On my last trip, I took an amazing Quebec City Food Tour with Judith, who taught me a lot about Quebec history as well as its cuisine.
While we always think of the city’s heritage as being French, a number of other cultures have contributed to its cuisine and traditions. There is, for example, an Irish area just outside of Old Town on rue Saint-Jean. The Irish arrived in the 1870s, fleeing both the English Church and Ireland’s potato famine.
In 1871, the oldest grocery store, Épicerie J.A. Moisan, was established here. Today, its decor is from the 1920s and ’30s, and it sells Quebec original products such as cheeses and preserves.
But our stop was for that Quebec original food, poutine, which we found across the street at the 24-hour Snack Bar Saint-Jean.
When I tasted my poutine, it was easy to see why the Snack Bar is a popular stop on a bar hopping night, even though it doesn’t serve any beer! The fresh cut fries (skin still on), were deep fried to perfection. Not too crisp and not mushy. I tried the curd cheese between my fingers — it really did squeak. And best of all for the vegan friends I was with, the gravy was made with vegetable juices, rather than a meat broth.
If you’d like to hit the Poutine wars this weekend during La Poutine Week, or some other weekend if you’re visiting Quebec City, check out the Poutine Wars website for the top restaurants to visit.