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Poutine (Quebec French pronunciation ) is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curd, covered with brown gravy and sometimes additional ingredients.

Poutine is a diner staple which originated in Quebecmarker and can now be found across Canadamarker. It is sold by fast food chains (such as New York Fries, A&W, Harvey's, Ed's Subs), in small "greasy spoon" type diners (commonly known as "cantines" or "casse-croûtes" in Quebec) and pubs, as well as by roadside chip wagons. International chains like McDonald's, A&W, KFC and Burger King also sell mass-produced poutine in Canada. Popular Quebec restaurants that serve poutine include Chez Ashton (Quebec Citymarker), La Banquise (Montrealmarker), Louis (Sherbrookemarker), Lafleur Restaurants, Franx Supreme , La Belle Province, Le Petit Québec and Dic Ann's Hamburgers. Along with fries and pizza, poutine is a very common dish sold and eaten in high school cafeterias in various parts of Canadamarker.


Typical Quebec poutine.
The dish originated in rural Quebecmarker, Canadamarker, in the late 1950s. Several Québécois communities claim to be the birthplace of poutine, including Drummondvillemarker (by Jean-Paul Roy in 1964), Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieumarker, and Victoriavillemarker. One often-cited tale is that of Fernand Lachance, from Warwick, Quebecmarker, which claims that poutine was invented in 1957, when a customer ordered fries while waiting for his cheese curds from the Kingsey cheese factory in Kingsey Falls (now in Warwick and owned by Saputo Incorporated). Lachance is said to have exclaimed ça va faire une maudite poutine ("it will make a damn mess"), hence the name. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm longer.

Classic Poutine

The French fries are of medium thickness, and fried so that the insides are still soft, with an outer crust. The gravy is a light chicken, veal or turkey gravy, mildly spiced with a hint of pepper. Heavy beef or pork-based brown gravies are typically not used. Fresh cheese curd (not more than a day old) is used. To maintain the texture of the fries,the cheese curd and gravy must be added immediately prior to serving the dish.


There are many variations of poutine. Italian poutine is a common one which replaces the gravy with spaghetti sauce (a thick tomato and ground beef sauce, similar to Bolognese sauce), while another variation includes sausage slices. Greek poutine consists of shoestring fries topped with a warm Mediterranean vinaigrette, gravy, and feta cheese. Mexican poutine, also referred to as carne asada fries, consists of fries, carne asada, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and pico de gallo. It is best served with hot sauce.

Poutine from La Banquise in Montreal.
Some restaurants in Montreal offer poutine with such additions as bacon, or Montreal-style smoked meat, although these are not as common. Poutine Dulton, which is offered in a few places, is made with ground beef, onions, and sausages.Some such restaurants even boast a dozen or more variations of poutine. For instance, more upscale poutine with three-pepper sauce, Merguez sausage, foie gras or even caviar and truffle can be found.

Some named variations may not necessarily be prepared with the same ingredients in different establishments. For example, "poutine Galvaude" adds shredded turkey or chicken and green peas, similar to the typical Québécois "hot chicken" sandwich.

Some variations eliminate the cheese, but most francophone Quebecers would call such a dish a "frites sauce" ("french fries with sauce") rather than poutine. Shawinigan and some other regions have Patate-sauce-choux where shredded raw cabbage replaces cheese.

Poutine can also sometimes be combined with pommes persillade (cubed fried potatoes topped with persillade) to produce a hybrid dish called poutine persillade.

Fast food combination meals in Canada often have the option of getting french fries "poutinized" by adding cheese curds (or shredded cheese on the Prairies) and gravy.

In Atlantic Canada, a variation topped with donair meat is offered as "donair poutine".

Outside Canada, poutine is found in northern border regions of the United Statesmarker such as New Englandmarker and the Upper Midwest. In Mainemarker and northwestern New Brunswickmarker, poutine may be called "mixed fries", "mix fry", or simply "mix", although the term "poutine" has been gaining in popularity in recent years, especially in Aroostook Countymarker. Residents sometimes pronounce the word "poo-tine", but most pronounce it "poot-tsien". . The most common pronunciation with anglophones in the Maritime provinces of Canada is usually "poo-tin" or "poo-teen".

These regions offer further variations of the basic dish. Cheeses other than fresh curds are commonly used (most commonly mozzarella cheese), along with beef, brown or turkey gravy. In the county culture especially, a mixed fry can also come with cooked ground beef on top and is referred to as a hamburger mix, though this is less popular than a regular mix.

A variation called "chips, cheese, and gravy", and in recent years nicknamed 'Cheegs', is served as a hang-over food or drunken snack in Australia and the United Kingdommarker.

In some parts of eastern Canada, the term poutine is not commonly used. In Baie Sainte-Anne, New Brunswick for example the word patachou is used to describe this dish. The term mozza-fries is also used in some parts of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.


The word poutine has a bewildering variety of meanings in French. The online version of the Dictionnaire historique du français québécois lists 15 different meanings of poutine in Quebec and Acadian French, most of which are for kinds of food.

The Dictionnaire historique dates the word poutine in the meaning "fries with cheese and gravy" to 1978. Other senses of the word have been in use at least since 1810.

While the provenance of the word poutine is uncertain, some of its meanings undoubtedly result at least in part from the influence of the English word pudding. Among its various culinary senses, that of "a dessert made from flour or bread crumbs" most clearly shows this influence; the word pouding, borrowed from the English pudding, is in fact a synonym in this sense. The pejorative meaning "fat person" of poutine (used especially in speaking of a woman) is believed to derive from the English pudding "a person or thing resembling a pudding" or "stout thick-set person".

In other meanings of poutine, the existence of a relation to the English word pudding is uncertain. One of these additional meanings — the one from which the name of the dish with fries is thought to derive — is "unappetizing mixture of various foods, usually leftovers." (This sense may also have given rise to the meaning "complicated business, complex organization; set of operations whose management is difficult or problematic.")

The Dictionnaire historique mentions the possibility that the form poutine is simply a francization of the word pudding. However, it considers it more likely that it was inherited from dialects spoken in France, and that some of its meanings resulted from the later influence of the similar-sounding English word pudding. It cites the Provençal forms poutingo "bad stew" and poutitè "hodgepodge" or "crushed fruit or foods"; poutringo "mixture of various things" in Languedocien; and poutringue, potringa "bad stew" in Franche-Comté as possibly related to poutine. The meaning "fries with cheese and gravy" of poutine is among those held as probably unrelated to pudding provided the latter view is correct.

Poutine in politics

In a Talking to Americans segment on the television series This Hour Has 22 Minutes during the 2000 American election, Rick Mercer convinced then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush that Canada's Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, was named Jean Poutine and that he was supporting Bush's candidacy. A few years later when Bush made his first official visit to Canada, he said during a speech, "There's a prominent citizen who endorsed me in the 2000 election, and I wanted a chance to finally thank him for that endorsement. I was hoping to meet Jean Poutine." The remark was met with laughter and applause.

In Quebec, the fact that Russian politician Vladimir Putin's surname transliterated into French is "Poutine", has predictably been exploited by various comedians. .

Related dishes

In New Brunswickmarker, 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 chicken or pork in the centre, and boiled. The result is a moist greyish dumpling 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.

Acadians of western Nova Scotiamarker as well as Acadians of Prince Edward Islandmarker feast on a similar dish which is called râpure, or rappie pie in English. Râpure is baked in a pan in a hot oven, and is often served with molasses and honey.

Chips and Gravy is a staple of the cheaper bistro style menus, in such places as Royal Canadian Legion and Workers Clubs, where the food offered would not be considered "fast food" but is still cheap and filling, especially for children. (The word "chips," commonly referring in North America to flat crispy fried slices of potato, is a synonym for 'french fries' elsewhere in the English-speaking world and occasionally used as such in Canada).

In the United Kingdommarker, the Republic of Irelandmarker, and the Isle of Manmarker, it is possible to find "chips, cheese & gravy" for sale in a chip shop or "chippy". This usually consists of brown gravy and grated mild Cheddar cheese.

In Newfoundland and Labradormarker most non-national chain restaurants serve a traditional dish called chips, dressing and gravy. Dressing is a mixture of mainly white bread crumbs and savoury and is often referred to as stuffing outside of Newfoundland and Labrador. Chips, dressing and gravy is served much like poutine, except for the dressing substituting for the cheese. While loved by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, the dish is not widely known of outside the Canadian province.

Disco fries also known as "Elvis Fries", served in New Jerseymarker and select New York Citymarker diners, are made with brown gravy, mozzarella, and heavier steak fries. Elsewhere in the greater New York City area and Long Island, diners serve "cheese fries", using either American (processed) cheese or mozzarella.

Cheese fries are also served in many diners in the American Southwest; in Texasmarker, for example, they usually include at least one variety of grated cheddar cheese, and are commonly served with ranch dressing and, sometimes, bacon, jalapenos and chives.

In Göteborg, Sweden, at many fish stands one can order a dish called fisktin, which consists of french fries, mozzarella cheese, and fish sauce with salmon and herring chunks.

See also


  2. Article on Poutine coming to New York City

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