CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

Vive la poutine!

The Story


It's Quebec's gastronomic contribution to Canadian cuisine: poutine. The holy trinity of fries, gravy and cheese curds has come to represent fast food at its finest or, as some may argue, at its worst. Poutine may not look appetizing, in fact Quebec pop star Mitsou tells CBC's Steve Langford that it looks like "the stuff we've got in our nose," but Quebecers love the gooey mess. Even McDonald's serves poutine. More than a few have claimed to be poutine's inventor but it is widely accepted that it all began in Warwick, Que. In 1957, a customer walked into Warwick's Le Café Idéal and asked its owner, Fernand Lachance, to throw in some cheese curds with his fries. Lachance used the Quebec slang "poutine" to describe the mess and voilà, poutine was born. 

Medium: Television
Program: Newswatch
Broadcast Date: Nov. 5, 1991
Guest(s): Fernand Lachance, Stéphane Lebeau, Jean Leclerc, Robert Libman, Lorraine Lorandeau , Pierre Roue
Reporter: Stephen Langford
Duration: 8:46

Did You know?


• Basic poutine consists of fries, gravy and cheese curds. Other variations add spaghetti sauce, chicken, coleslaw and even hotdogs but Fernand Lachance takes no credit for these versions. Original poutine was in fact sauceless when Lachance added it to his menu in 1957. Back then a portion cost 25 cents.

• The man known as Monsieur Poutine died on Feb. 6, 2004, in Warwick, Que. Despite eating poutine throughout his life, Fernand Lachance maintained a trim figure. He was 86.

• Some say the word poutine is a derivative of the English word "pudding" but the official stance of Quebec's office de la langue française is that the word actually means "mess."

• Today poutine is available in some of Canada finest restaurants. High-end versions of poutine use rendered duck skin, goat cheese and even foie gras.


More

My Canada Includes Tourtière more