Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Poutine (pronounced, roughly, poo-tin, or peuh-tsin; exact Quebecer pronunciation is IPA — listen to it in Pronunciation-of-Poutine.wav or Poutine pronounciation.ogg) is a popular junk food snack similar to American disco fries. It is a mixture of french fries with fresh cheese curds, covered with hot gravy. The curds' freshness is most important as it makes them soft in the warm fries, without completely melting. When the curds are really fresh they will often squeak between the teeth. A poutine with melted cheese is not regarded as a 'genuine poutine', nor are poutines made with shredded cheese or cheese slices.
It originated in rural Quebec, Canada in the late 1950s and is now popular all over the country, especially in New Brunswick. Several communities claim to be the origin of poutine, including Drummondville, Quebec and Victoriaville, Quebec. The most popular tale is the one of Fernand Lachance, from Warwick, Quebec , which claims that poutine was invented in 1957, when a client ordered fries and cheese curds in a bag. Lachance is said to have exclaimed ça va faire une maudite poutine ("it will make a hell of a mess"), hence the name. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm for longer. In fact, linguists have found no occurrence of the word poutine with this meaning earlier than 1978.
The exact origin of the word itself is unknown, but linguists believe it came from one of the many French patois that influenced early Quebec French, as many of those have similar words: poutingo means "bad stew" in Provençal, poutringo is a "mix of different things" in Langue d'Oc, etc. Many used to think it comes from the English word pudding, which is unlikely although the different meanings of poutine may have been influenced by this word.
Poutine is a fast food staple in eastern Canada, and is sold by nearly all fast food chains in the provinces, as well as by small diners and pubs. International chains like McDonalds, A&W and Burger King now sell poutine across Canada, but their product is scorned by many as being an inferior reproduction. A common variation, Italian poutine, substitutes gravy with Bolognese sauce, while another popular variation includes sausage slices. Some restaurants boast a dozen or more variations of poutine. When ordering a fast-food trio or combo in eastern Canada, you can often pay a little extra to get your french fries replaced with a poutine.
In New Brunswick, there is an earlier traditional Acadian dish known as poutine râpée, which is completely different from the "poutine québécoise". The Acadian poutine is a ball of grated and mashed potato, salted, filled with pork in the centre, and boiled. The result is a moist greyish ball about the size of a baseball. It is commonly eaten with salt and pepper or brown sugar. It is believed to have originated from the German Klöße, prepared by early German settlers who lived among the Acadians. Many other dishes, similar or not, are known by the same name.
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