Hand-cut french fries and squeaky white cheese curds covered in beef gravy.
Whenever I describe poutine to someone who has never had it before their reaction is invariably something along the lines of “Eww! How can you eat that!?”. But when they try it, they usually start singing a different tune. Because seriously..what’s not to like about french fries, cheese, and gravy? Poutine may look a little disgusting, but it is incredibly delicious.
When I was an undergrad in Quebec, poutine was the dish of choice for late night ordering (the fact that I can still eat it after having seen poutine containers converted into ashtrays is a testament to just how good it is). Fortunately, poutine is so popular in Quebec that it can be found almost anywhere – from greasy spoons, to expensive French bistros, to McDonalds (although i don’t recommend getting it there – those fries are much too skinny to handle all that gravy and cheese) – and you can have it delivered to your door at almost any hour.
There are tons of places in Montreal that will top poutine with additional items such as bacon or Montreal’s famous smoked meat, and the really fancy bistros will add more high-falluting ingredients like green peppercorns or even fois gras. But my favourite will always be the unadulterated kind found at restaurants like LaFleur, a Montreal-based chain that specializes in Quebécois fast food.
It isn’t fancy, but the poutine at LaFleur is the real deal. The fries are squishy and swimming in way too much gravy, the cheese curds are clearly high fat and most aren’t even melted, and the whole thing is so obviously unhealthy that I’m afraid to finish it (but cant stop). In other words, all is as it should be. I am in poutine heaven.