Whenever I spoke to Canadians about the fact that I was going to be visiting their country they all spoke of a dish that could not be missed; a dish called poutine.
Arriving in Montreal off of our Air Canada flight we were greeted with a combination of ‘Bonjour’ here and ‘Hello’ there before turning the corner to go through customs where we were met with a not so Canadian welcome.
Being the weekend after Thanksgiving it was packed and unlike any airport I have ever seen before. The Canadians around us could not believe their luck and their previous weekend of thanks and giving went out the window as they lined up very irritated, like us, in the queue for over an hour.
We lost a large chunk of our time in the queue as we watched the daylight slip away from us as the sky turned from a pasty grey to a dark charcoal.
Eventually with a slight diversion (my fault) we made it to our hostel in the downtown area. The M Hostel is located in the University district and for our short stay in Montreal had everything we needed.
After a quick drop of our bags we had one goal for the evening; find poutine.
What is this that I speak of? Well; poutine is a truly Canadian dish which originated in Quebec. Poutine is a dish that would suffice in any circumstance however I do believe that if you were drunk it would provide the consumer with a food experience to match no other. Essentially it is chips doused in gravy with a heavy handed sprinkle of cheese curd. Sounds simple enough but it is a combination that is sure to blow your mind.
We were told about a little place called La Banquise. They are known as the best place for it and as lovers of food, new things and a rule to always follow a good recommendation, who were we to say no?
When we arrived we were very quickly seated and experienced our first bit of Canadian service. Water was on the table and a quick explanation was given in regards to what we should try.
Our receptionist told us to not go for the classic poutine however I could not go past it. While the menu had many other delicious and mouthwatering options which included ingredients like guacamole, pulled pork, beef mince and Swiss cheese, I opted for the classic poutine as a first time cherry popper.
Less than five minutes had passed and an enormous (apparently regular) plate of poutine had arrived on the red decorated table. Oh my god! It isn’t really much to look at and doesn’t get points for presentation but I couldn’t wait to tuck in. I took my first bite and let me just say “Oh Canada, thank you for poutine!”
It was amazing, my first mouthful had everything on it, ensuring I got the whole experience and it was great. How can a meal with hardly any (or very little) nutritional value taste so damn good?
Tactfully; with extreme skill and precision we managed to make our way through the dish. Each bite providing a gateway to the pool of gravy at the bottom of the once white plate.
I got a third of the way through and already began feeling defeated. I know what you are thinking, I can hear the cheers now “Keep going! You can do it!” I continued for a little while taking breaks where I could. You must understand it was tough, really tough. As a lactose intolerant person this is not the ideal dish but I had prepared with myself.
I got halfway and I had to stop, not because I wanted to but because my body could not keep up. This delicious poutine had beat me; taken me into its gravy filled void to spit me out and look like it does on a plate.
Poutine had won! Just this once.