The Québécois concoction of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy is an iconic Canadian dish. The earliest poutine dates back to 1957, when a restaurateur by the name of Fernand LaChance had a customer ask for french fries and cheese, in a bag. He responded, “That’s going to make a damn mess!”
Since then, the quintessentially Canadian creation has seen some monstrous mash-ups. Whether traditional or with a twist—using smoked meats, fried pickles, maple syrup or in pie form—here’s a countdown of what I consider the #BLESSED poutine combos that make me proud to be Canadian.
Have you heard of IBM’s Watson? The artificially intelligent computer system capable of answering questions once appeared on Jeopardy! and just recently teamed up with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) to put together the Cognitive Cooking system, which was brought to Canada. The Cognitive Cooking system developed several different poutine dishes, which were brought to Toronto and Montreal for La Poutine Week, an annual event. One of the Watson-developed poutine dishes was Japanese-Middle Eastern onion ring poutine. It quirky and wonderful. You can even make this dish at home.
Pittsburgh has the Primanti Bros’ sandwiches, stuffed high with french fries. In Canada, we have taken things one step further, combining our love of the Louisana-rooted sandwich with French-Canadian poutine. To date, there have been sightings on the Hush Puppy Po’Boys Southern Food Truck in Prince Edward Island and Billy Jack’s Po’Boys restaurant in Etobicoke. The poutine po’boy is a mess of fries, cheese and gravy on bun, perfectly satisfying the definitions of both creations. Currently, The Southern Po’ Boy Cookbook by Todd-Michael St. Pierre features a poutine po’boy recipe, should you be feeling adventurous.
Pizza is the food of the gods—okay, perhaps only in my mind, but it’s a pretty beloved dish among one and all, young or old. So what happens when you combine pizza and poutine? You get total awesomeness, that’s what! Pizza Hut just introduced their own version of poutine pizza, which is currently only available in Canada. If you’re feeling saucy enough, you could make your own version with this recipe, which is more true to authentic French Canadian poutine, or this recipe, which just seems to be french fries and cheese on pizza. Your choice, but I’d recommend following this Canadian’s instructions and choosing recipe #1.
If you’re like me, then you’re a fan of the Canadian YouTube cooking show Epic Meal Time, and are already very familiar with their dish, candy poutine. With deep-fried Kit-Kat bars, chocolate ganache and marshmallows, it’s a bit on the intense side, even for those with a serious sweet tooth. However, there are other variations on dessert poutine besides Epic Meal Time’s. For example, there is a dirty, dive-y diner in Montreal called Paul Patates Frites, which piles its poutine high with soft serve ice cream, chocolate wafer sticks as mock fries, a coating of Cracker Jack popcorn as mock-curds and caramel sauce. Other recipes include churros, like this one from famed Canadian chef Ricardo.
Throw your hands up if you love the deep fryer! Taking a nod from the variety of filled and rolled spring roll appetizers found in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, this mash-up has been spotted in two provinces of Canada (at Rideau Rouge, Quebec City and Pacific Junction Hotel, Toronto), but there have been reports of them popping up all over North America since 2009, and now Pinterest offers several pins on how to make them yourself, should you dare.
Amanda (Ama) Scriver is a full-time community builder and official ‘head bee in charge’ of the food, fat and feminism blog, Fat Girl Food Squad. When she isn’t busy kickin’ ass and takin’ names, she is having serious feels for all things coffee, hip-hop, the art of drag, Kardashians, pizza and Doritos. You can find more bylines from her at Eater, BizBash and Toronto is Awesome. Follow her on Twitter: @amapod.