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Hungry for fries and gravy? This is your guide to poutine week!

poutine week in Canada

Whether you’re craving a carb filled meal, looking for a late night snack or simply want to try out Canada’s National Dish, Poutine Week has you covered. Mouthwatering meals or iconic cuisine might not come to mind when you think of Canada, but that’s not to say the country doesn’t have some delicious food!

What is poutine?

Poutine is a relatively new dish when you compare it to other countries and their staple dishes (we’re looking at you Italy). The earliest mentions of this comfort food can be traced back to the rural areas of Quebec in the late 1950’s. Since then it’s established itself as a symbol of not just the Québécois culture and cuisine, but Canada’s as well.

The word itself is a Quebeciois slang word that translates to “mess”, so it might not be the best food to try on a first date. There’s also a bit of a debate on how to say the word depending where you are in the country. In most English speaking places, you can say it the way it’s spelled, “poo-teen”, but, if you’re in a French speaking province like Quebec and want to sound like a local, “poo-tin” is more common!

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But what exactly is poutine?

The French-Canadian dish is quite simple to make and consists of just three ingredients – fries, brown gravy and most importantly, cheese curds. Cheese curds are what really completes this dish and makes it quintessentially Canadian. And if you’re not familiar with cheese curds, they’re small chunks of cheddar cheese, shaped kind of like packing peanuts. You’ll know if it’s a fresh piece if it squeaks when you eat it, similar to Halloumi! 

Although that’s the makeup of a traditional poutine, you can find all different kinds of takes on the dish out there, especially during a festival like Poutine Week. 

This is where to eat the BEST poutine in Montreal

This is where to eat the BEST poutine in Montreal

Lianne Chin-Fook
by Lianne Chin-Fook Feb 23, 2024

When is poutine week?

If you happen to be in Canada in February, you might be lucky enough to experience La Poutine Week yourself. 

Beginning on February 1st, restaurants across the country create their own unique versions of the dish to make it as fancy or funky as they want! They add it as a special meal to their menus to officially participate in what is now the largest poutine festival in the world.

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How long has poutine week been around?

The first Poutine festival was held in Montreal in 2013 where 50 restaurantsgot in on the action. Fast forward to 2024, where over 700 restaurants from coast to coast take part, feeding hundreds of thousands of happy customers over the course of a week, sometimes two if we’re lucky! 

Where is poutine week held?

Major cities like Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Charlottetown all have restaurants that participate in the fun.If you’re not sure whether or not your city has participating restaurants, there’s an official website where you can see what restaurants are participating in the festival in each Province. 

Throughout the festival, customers across Canada head online and vote for their favourite poutine creation. At the end of the week, a winner is announced in each city for “The Best Poutine”, “The Most Original Poutine” and “The Judges Choice” which is selected by a handful of poutine experts! 

This year in Quebec City, a restaurant named Chez Aston took the top spot with their bacon chipotle poutine. Decked out with roasted shredded beef, crumbled bacon, crispy onions topped with a blend of BBQ and chipotle sauce, it’s no surprise that it was a fan favourite.  

Some restaurants like Le Gras Dur take things to the next level – they turn this fast food dish into a more upscale, classier version. Their unique poutine is called the “1 Million Dollar Poutine” and features a veal stock, beer, bacon, and caramelized onions, topped with melted parmesan, a sunny-side-up egg, and a coulis of grilled peppers and truffles. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, it’s garnished with a gold leaf.

Whether you want to try a staple poutine or go for the most outlandish version you can find, there’s no shortage of delicious meals during Poutine Week.

And if that’s got your taste buds going, check out our guide to finding the BEST poutine spots in Montreal

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