Québécois or Canadian?
Poutine. This simple, but tasty dish, was officially put in the dictionary in 2014 and the CBC listed in the top 10 greatest Canadian invention of all time. Yes it was ninth, beating the electron microscope, snowmobiling and even superman. Meanwhile the Canada Project asked 1500 Canadians to determine their favourite iconic Canadian food and the winner at 22 per cent was poutine, followed by maple syrup at 14 per cent.
It seems from all the votes that this dish represents an entire nation. However, when I asked various Québécois about the dish’s national identity, they claim it’s not Canadian but Québécois.
When I ask non-Québécois Canadians, they believe it’s Canadian. “Twenty years ago you couldn’t get poutine outside of Quebec,” said my Québécois source. “Now you can get it everywhere – but it’s not real poutine.”
In 2016, academic Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet argued that classifying the Quebec creation as “Canadian” actually risks the province’s culture and customs being absorbed and assimilated by the English-Canadian majority. But is that the worry? Or is it just that poutine has to be made a certain way to be any good?
When I did a public Facebook poll asking for the best poutine in Whitehorse, a debate started among the Québécois community about whether it was even possible to find a “real” poutine outside of Quebec.
But shouldn’t you be able to when there are a large number of Yukon residents who originate from the province?
Having travelled all over the world and tried the “best,” or original, places for foods, I can see the argument.
The best pizza in the world isn’t Italian, it’s from Naples (which is true in my opinion, having eaten pizzas all over Italy and the world).
My experiences with the British was that their favourite national food has even changed from the traditional fish and chips to chicken curry, showing its national evolution in diversity and immigration.
And so the battles continue around the world as cross-culturally we merge together.
Don’t even get me started on the desert pavlova – no one can confirm whether New Zealand or Australia created the dish and it is a constant, nationalistic debate usually escalated during the Rugby World Cup.
Food and drink are often a source of hot debate, as many are proud to be where they are from and food can be a way of representing that pride. And no more do you have this feeling of nationalistic pride than when you are away from your home.
National Poutine Day is April 11 and now that I have eaten this fine delicacy, I will ensure I mark it on my permanent residency application for Canada.
From commercial overload with many Canadian fast food chains serving it for the masses, to foreign food restaurants adding their own unique design to the dish, poutine has changed from a Quebecois identity into a national identity, whether that is good or bad.
My personal opinion is it is super tasty, but nothing beats thick french fries and chicken salt with gravy from Australia – just saying.
However, now I have my future 3 a.m. post-drunk snack, my PMS-stay-at-home-Bridget-Jones comfort meal ready to go!
Just how good Whitehorse poutine is, compared to poutine in Quebec, I probably will never know. But it’s definitely tasty and I guess I’m slowly becoming more Canadian, eh!