How to Eat Poutine


Sure, we’ve got Tim Horton’s, ketchup chips and Smarties, but Canada’s greatest food staple (and, arguably, our greatest achievement as a nation) is the poutine. Pairing piping hot gravy with squeaky white cheese curds and perfectly cooked fries, it’s the sort of high calorie, high carb salt attack that is dreamy in its deliciousness.
Starting today, Calgary (or should we say Calorie) will celebrate Poutine Week. It lasts until April 23, and sees local restaurants cooking up everything from Takoyaki Poutine to a Poutine Burrito. Before you eat yourselves into a food coma, however, we’ve created a handy how-to guide. Once you’ve read through it, you’ll have earned the right to wear our exclusive poutine pin and find your fatty, fried bliss.


There are few things comparable to the carbo-load that comes from mowing down a dish of this Quebecois cuisine — it’s really a singular experience. As such, you should prepare yourself. You probably don’t want to indulge in this treat on an empty stomach (its nutritional value, after all, is comparable to eating a soggy paper towel) but you don’t want to be too full, either. Perhaps have a light salad before you unleash havoc on your digestive system. Plus, eating a salad will probably make you annoyed enough to feel like you’ve earned the poutine. Further, it’s worth noting that the flavours of poutine are even more heightened after a drink or three. In other words, it’s not a bad idea to do some pre-gaming before you cram fries into your mouth.


Poutines come in all shapes and sizes, with a wealth of flavour profiles that compliment each other in different ways. The honest truth is that your last bite is always going to be a beige-coloured starch slurry, but you should still think about what you want to taste. If it’s your first poutine ever, stick with something traditional. Then treat yourself with a strange flavour combination that tips its hat to another food. With poutine, the only limits are in the stomach of the person eating it.


When you finally get that picturesque plate of piping hot potato product, you’re probably going to be tempted to start mowing down immediately. But consider this — the cheese curds are a precarious product, and the exact moment you eat them will play a crucial role in how you experience them. If you rush into it, you’re going to be met with rubbery, squeaky cheese balls that are cold in the middle. If you wait too long, however, you’ll simply have melted cheese. The trick is to let the gravy work its magic for half a minute or so before you dig in.


Poutine is a remarkably unhealthy delicacy, but you mustn’t think about it. After all, it’s scientifically impossible to enjoy junk food if you’re focused on the nutrition tracker in your phone. If you’re seriously worried about your nutrition, you should plan ahead and skip out on bread for a few days. But eating a poutine is a sacred experience that cannot be interrupted by fretting about how it will affect your body. You must approach it with a clear mind — only then can you truly lose yourself in the dish.


If you happened to choose a poutine outing as the activity for a first date, things are about to get very real, very fast. Sure, the so-called experts will tell you to eat it with a fork and knife, and they’re probably right. But what they don’t tell you is that it’s still going to be an extremely saucy experience. You probably shouldn’t wear that brand new white dress at the poutinerie, but then again it doesn’t really matter. Every gravy stain is a badge of honour, and should be worn with pride.


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