When in Rome…One dish keeps coming up in conversations about Montreal’s cuisine: Poutine (pronounced putsin). And, of course, the best way to find the best dish is to ask the locals.
The adorable shopkeeper at Rokoko Vintage recommended I ask the bartender at Sparrow who recommended a “casse-croûtes” (greasy spoon) called Chez Claudette adding, “Don’t mind the decor, you’re there for the food.” The waitress at Chez Claudette recommended we ask the chef who stepped away from the kitchen for a moment to recommend le Italienne and Vege. “Une petit plaque de chaque.”
Poutine, according to the chef, originated at a truck stop somewhere in Quebec. A traditional plate included a side of fries, a side of gravy and a side of cheese curds until one eve a particularly rushed driver asked that the sides all be tossed together. “Hence, poutine or, put together.” The popularity of poutine began to grow from there and additional ingredients were added to make any number of variations.
How much of his story I believe I’m not sure (see the wikipedia link below), but Chez Claudette was mentioned in the New Yorker and is a favorite after hours of local bartenders. That, at least, lends cred to the recipe. My take? Surprisingly good, but poutine will probably remain a once-a-year indulgence.