CLOSE
Original image
J. Stephen Conn via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Welcome to Canada Day (and a Half) 2016

Original image
J. Stephen Conn via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Here at mental_floss, we got so excited about Canada Day that we couldn't contain ourselves to a mere 24 hours. That's why, starting today at noon, we'll be peppering our feed with fresh Canadian flavor (yes, it smells like bacon) and continuing the festivities all day July 1.

We’ve got primers on how to speak Canadian, read Canadian, eat Canadian, what to call Canadians from various parts of the country, and what to do if you spot a Canadian monster. We’ve explained the most perplexing habits of Canadians—why do they drink milk that comes in bags? Why is their cheese so expensive?—and written profiles of their most unusual celebrities, including a legendary tightrope walker and a prime minister who sought the future in his shaving cream.

And if you're scratching your head and wondering what Canada Day is, exactly, look no further. Now if you'll excuse us, there are Coffee Crisps to eat and Tim Horton's to drink. Amusez-vous!

Original image
istock
arrow
Food
A Brief History of Poutine
Original image
istock

Walk down a street after a hard night of drinking in Montréal and you’d be hard-pressed not seeing someone gorging themselves on poutine, a high-calorie classic staple of Québécois casse-croûtes—or “greasy spoon”—cuisine.

Just what is poutine, you ask? The delicious Canadian dish is comprised of a holy-hoser trinity of ingredients: French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Try some yourself and you’ll be hooked. It’s become so popular that it’s readily available at certain restaurants in the U.S. (Lucky New Yorkers can get their hands on some traditional poutine at Brooklyn restaurant Mile End.) Otherwise, the dish has become so ubiquitous in its home province that even McDonald’s and Burger King sell it as a side.

Much like the debate in the U.S. about the origins of the hamburger, poutine has similarly unclear beginnings. The most widespread claim for inventing poutine comes from the small dairy-farming town of Warwick, Québec, where, in 1957, a customer asked restaurateur Fernand Lachance to throw cheese curds and French fries—items the owner sold separately at his restaurant L’Idéal (later renamed Le lutin qui rit, or “The Laughing Elf”)—together in one bag because the customer was in a rush. Legend has it when Lachance peered into the bag after the two ingredients were mixed together, he remarked, “This is a ‘poutine,’” using the joual—or Québécois slang—for a "mess.”

Noticeably absent from Lachance’s cobbled-together recipe is the gravy ingredient, which was added to the mix in 1964 when a restaurant-owner in nearby Drummondville, Quebec named Jean-Paul Roy noticed a few of his diners ordering a side of cheese curds to add to the patented gravy sauce and fries dish at his restaurant, Le Roy Jucep. Roy soon added the three-ingredient item on his menu and the rest is delicious, gravy-soaked history.

Eventually, poutine spread across the province and throughout Canada—with different combinations added to the fries, curds, and gravy recipe—but the original remains the most recognized and honored. It even initially made its way to the United States by way of New Jersey, where an altered recipe known as “Disco Fries” substitutes shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese for the Canadian curds.

But if you ever find yourself in Montréal and have a hankering for greasy food, be sure to order it correctly. Anglophones usually pronounce the word as “poo-teen,” but if you want to pass for a real Québécois, it’s pronounced “poo-tin.”  

This story originally ran in 2013.

Original image
iStock
arrow
language
15 Colorful Canadian Slang Terms
Original image
iStock

Americans looking to take a trip across their country's northern border might find themselves bewildered by some Canadian turns of phrase. It is, after all, a place where people go out for a rip to the beer store and plunk down their loonies to pick up a two-four. Pretty confusing, eh? But fear not. For all you keeners who want to learn how to speak like a Canuck, here’s a handy chart to help you master Canadian slang, courtesy of Expedia.ca.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios