X No Thanks

J'aime Poutine

by Matt Salisbury on 28 October 2014, 10:10AM

As a student in the North of England, it’s a safe bet to say that my culinary experiences while away at university weren’t exactly of the Michelin Star variety. Instead, Fray Bentos pies that could be eaten from the tin, beans on toast and Pot Noodles were amongst the delights rustled up in my student kitchen in Preston, while - for a special occasion - chips, cheese and gravy from the local chippie always went down well with a beer following a day sitting in lectures.


Chips, cheese and gravy might as well be the North’s attempt at a bit of ‘culinary fusion’, as even today, a request for chips and gravy (never mind the cheese) when journeying down south is enough to get the kind of looks that leave you wondering if you’ve suddenly grown a second head. So you would hardly expect to head to foreign climes and discover that it’s one of the most popular dishes around – just with a slightly more exotic name. The Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard is a big fan for a start, with one of the first things she likes to do when returning home being to ‘go get a poutine’ with her mum in Montréal.


The idea is simple. Take your fries, top them with cheese curds (particularly important because of the texture and a far cry from the regular cheese back home) and then add gravy. Originating in rural areas, poutine has now spread to become one of the most popular dishes in Canada; with a myriad of variations available from those who want to push the boundaries. Want to go Italian? Add some Bolognese. Prefer Mexican? Crack out the hot peppers and add a little spice. Fancy fine dining? Throw in a little Foie Gras.


From such relatively simple beginnings, the opportunities really are endless and no trip to Canada should be complete without sampling poutine at least once, be that in one of the more famous establishments like Montréal’s La Banquise, or at any of the myriad of more ‘greasy spoon’ like cafes that feature it on the menu. However, to focus simply on poutine would be to do Canada and Québec in particular, a huge disservice as the province is almost a dream location for food lovers. And it’s not all just about Maple Syrup either. As someone who has always liked his grub, I can speak from experience...


Québec is a region where identity is hugely significant, and as such, local produce is king. Nowhere is this better shown than in the Charlevoix region in the north of Québec, which is home to its own Flavour Trail to showcase everything that is offered. A relatively simple idea, a group of producers, growers and restaurateurs have come together to create a culinary journey for those travelling through the region, with more than 40 different locations on which to stop off as you head from Baie Saint-Paul towards La Malbaie.


Everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to cheeses, and from meats to freshly baked bread, can be found along the trail which is one of the premier gastronomical treats that can be experienced while in the region. My own experience of the Flavour Trail was limited to three stops, which included a stop at la Laiterie Charlevoix just outside Baie Saint-Paul on Route 138. Here, there was the chance to fully see what makes the Flavour Trail what it is, with cheese produced in house – and in full view of customers – on a daily basis being sold alongside a selection of products from elsewhere along the route.Those products were then showcased in impressive fashion in a meal at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.

If there is one thing that I personally took away from the Flavour Trail however, it wasn’t the food. As tasty as beautifully cooked veal with freshly grown vegetable was and as refreshing as it was to sample home grown fruits, it was Canada’s Ice Cider that really hit the spot. A world away from the ciders to be enjoyed back home, Ice Cider is created by using the juice from frozen fruit to create a high quality drink that is the perfect after dinner treat. Let’s just say that the bottle that travelled back in my case didn’t last for long...


While locality is important, that’s not to say there isn’t any international influence on Canadian cuisine, most notably in Montreal. Here, as you wander along St. Lawrence Boulevard, there is the chance to explore the rich gastronomy of immigrants from around the world who chose to settle in the city. A food tour is the perfect way to explore everything offered and with Portuguese, Italian, French, Chinese, Spanish and Latin American communities amongst those who live side-by-side along the street, there is the opportunity to embark on a culinary trip around the globe.


That’s not to say there isn’t Canadian fare along the way, with a Wilensky’s Special from the famous old cafe bar of the same name – which has been largely unchanged since opening in the 1930s – being amongst the highlights that simply have to be sampled. The special grilled beef salami and beef bologna sandwich with mustard on a kaiser roll, pressed flat from the grill even has its own poem to make sure you eat it the right way.

When ordering a Special,
you should know a thing or two.
It is always served with mustard;
it is never cut in two.
Don’t ask us why; just understand
that this is nothing new.
This is the way that it’s been done
since 1932.

The only word of warning for food lovers heading for Canada is to be aware of the fact that you will return home weighing more than when you left.

Either that or my jeans have shrunk in the wash!

To find out more about holidays to Québec, click here

For more information about travelling to visit Tourism Québec

A Hop Around the World’s Beers

Read More

Top 10 Things to do in Vancouver

Read More

Antigua: Paradise at the Right Price

Read More

Exploring Singapore and Indonesia

Read More
Post of the month
by Tourism Australia More

Email sign up

Register to receive holiday offers, cheap flights deals, hotel offers and more.

Travelbag Travel/Leisure London

01 Jan 00:00 Read More
Travelbag's Twitter
Common Tags
24 Hours 48 hours in 5 Reasons Abu Dhabi Activities Adventure Holiday Africa Alaska America Antigua Argentina asia Auckland Australasia Australia bahamas Bahrain Bali Bangkok Barbados Beach Holidays Beaches beer Bolivia Bora Bora Borneo Botswana Brazil California Cambodia Campervan Canada Cancun Cape Town Caribbean Central America Chicago Chile China City Breaks Colombo Colorado Cook Islands Costa Rica Cruise Holidays Cruises Cuba culture Dining Dominican Republic Dubai Ecuador Europe Family Holidays Festivals Fiji Florida food Food Trip Gold Coast Grenada Hanoi Hawaii hiking Ho Chi Minh City Hoi An holiday reading holidays Honeymoon Hong Kong India Indian Ocean Indian Ocean Luxury Holidays Indonesia Jamaica Japan Jordan Kenya Koh Samui Krabi Langkawi Laos las vegas Latin America Literature los angeles Luxury Holidays Macau Malaysia Maldives Mauritius Melbourne Mexico Miami Middle East Montreal motorhome holidays music Myanmar Namibia Nature New England New York New Zealand North New Zealand Northen Territory Oman Oregon Orlando Penang Perth Perth Beaches Peru Phuket Qatar Quebec Queensland Queenstown Rail Travel Ras Al Khaimah Reading on holiday Road trip Safari San Francisco Scuba Diving Self-Drive Seychelles Sightseeing Trip Singapore snorkelling South Africa South America South Australia South Carolina South New Zealand Southeast Asia Sri Lanka St Lucia Surfing Sydney Tahiti Tasmania Tennessee Texas Thailand Things To Do Tokyo Top 5 Things to Do Toronto tour trekking UAE United States USA USA Roadtrip Utah Vancouver Vietnam Vietnam Beaches Virginia Washington DC Western Australia whale watching Wildlife Wine Winter Sun
Please Wait...

We use cookies
Read more

Cookies: We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to use our site cookies.
See our cookie policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them.

Would you like a call back from one of our experts? X
chat with our experts
0871 703 4698
Call us until today

Schedule a call back


Please Select a Date


Please Select a Time


Please supply your First Name


Please supply your Surname

Phone Number

Please Check the Number and Try Again


Please Select a Destination


Dear , our experts will call you on , on to chat about your trip. In the meantime, feel free to explore our site for inspiration