Poutine is gooey, artery-clogging, and delicious, and if you’re Canadian you’ve probably scarfed down a serving or three at some point. The Québécois delicacy — french fries topped with cheese curds and drenched in gravy — has become part of Canada’s cultural identity.
While the comfort food’s popularity is clear-cut, its origins are anything but, with several Quebec-based chefs and restaurateurs claiming to be its inventor.
Fernand Lachance of Warwick, Quebec, has often been credited as the definitive poutine creator. As the story goes, in 1957 a trucker came into his restaurant, Lutin Qui Rit, and ordered fries. But when the trucker saw cheese curds sitting on the counter, he asked Lachance to add them to the fries, in a bag.
Lachance did as the customer ordered but is reported to have called the concoction “une maudite poutine” (a hell of a mess). Lachance began adding gravy to the mixture in 1964.
Among others vying for the title of poutine’s originator is Jean-Paul Roy, who says his Drummondville restaurant, Le Roy Jucep, was serving poutine, with gravy, by 1956 but under another name.
It was first called “fromage-patate-sauce” (cheese-potato-sauce), as customers were asking that cheese curd be added to the regular patatesauce. In 1964, Roy says, the name was changed to poutine, from pouding, a slang word used around the restaurant to describe any sort of mixture.
Whoever invented this delicious concoction, poutine is a distinctly Canadian treat.
— Sandy Klowak