Poutine. I always imagined it pronounced like Poo Teen, but after hearing it
uttered aloud by a proper French-Canadian, it sounds more like Putin, as in
the surname of Russias President.
Poutine, which is really no more than French fries covered in gravy and
cheese curds, strikes me as way more British than French. Peas are also an
optional accompaniment, and I could see the mushy concoction right at home
on some demented chip shop menu in England.
Origins aside, this was a dish that needed to be tried. And no, I didnt
want fancy foie gras poutine or mass produced chain restaurant poutine. I
wanted Montreal greasy spoon, 24-hour diner style spuds, and Chez Claudette
came through for me.
East of the boutique-y part of Laurier St., sits this no nonsense corner
caf with little tables and counter stools. The menu is filled with basics
like eggs, bacon, burgers and oddballs like fish and chips and spaghetti.
Most baffling was the use of Michigan as descriptor; there was a Michigan
burger listed as well as a Michigan hot dog. I've never associated Michigan
with any particular food style.
I ordered the poutine as a side with eggs and bacon (most meals have
poutine as an add-on for a few dollars more). It wasn't bad at all, sort of
gloopy, and more peppery than I'd imagined. The cheese curds are in large
chunks, not like baby-sized cottage cheese ones. And the base wasn't really
French fries, but cubed potatoes. I'm not sure if thats standard or not. I
think the crispiness of fried potatoes might work better, even though the
gravy would inevitably make them soggy anyway. I need to do more poutine
research before coming to any conclusions.
Chez Claudette * 351 Laurier E., Montreal, Canada