Poutine is a food rarely eaten or discussed outside of Canada, but despite its lack of global popularity, we Canadians have endless enthusiasm for this gravy-smothered delicacy. It’s only fitting, then, that we should have a national week-long festival to celebrate our favourite dish.
That festival, La Poutine Week, is coming up. The annual week-long celebration of squeaky curds, tender fries, and abundant gravy takes place February 1 to 7, when restaurants across Canada will create and sell their own unique poutines. Customers will get the chance to vote on their favourite creations on the La Poutine Week website.
The poutines are judged in a number of categories. There’s the judge’s choice award, the most original poutine award, the most popular poutine award, and the foodie’s choice award. Last year’s winners set a pretty high bar. The judge’s choice, La Poutine Bitoque, from Montreal’s TaverneF was poutine with beef steak, a poached egg, white wine sauce, and thyme- and garlic-infused oil. Le P’tit Creux, from the restaurant of the same name, won the most “original award” for the use of plantains, Haitian marinated pork, cabbage salad, and tarragon sauce. The contest also saw Asian-inspired poutines with red pepper sauce, blackened Texan poutine, hummus poutine, curry poutine, and dozens of other combinations from every part of the world and flavour profile imaginable.
Poutine offers chefs the perfect opportunity for experimentation. It has reliably delicious core ingredients and is the closest thing to an all-Canadian comfort food, but it’s also very versatile. “Now, depending on where you are in the country, your poutine could be topped with butter chicken in B.C., to sliced Alberta beef, or even lobster on the East Coast,” Lenore Newman, author of the cookbook
A Canadian Culinary Journey, told Global News.
This is the first year that Edmonton and Winnipeg will be added to La Poutine Week’s roster, and plenty of other Canadian cities are already on board. There’s even one (but just one) restaurant participating from outside Canadian borders, in the tiny town of Guémené-Penfao, France. To see a full list and to find the perfect poutine for your palate, check out La Poutine Week online.