Potato shortage threatens beloved poutine

La Poutine Week 2021

Mes amis Quebecois, my fellow Quebecers, what you are about to read may cause anxiety. Our beloved Poutine (and one of the best is at Smoke Meat Pete) , our provincial gem of a spud and go-to comfort food may be curdled – due to a serious drop in potato harvests in North America. Je suis desole, I am sorry, but bad weather this past autumn with early frosts, followed by snow and rain has resulted in low yields and smaller patates. This is not a joke, ce n’est pas une blague, Potato shortage threatens beloved poutine.

Potato shortage threatens beloved poutine

The US Department of Agriculture is predicting a 6.1% percent drop in potato yields from the largest producers in the US: North Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, Maine and Idaho. It would be the lowest harvests in close to a decade. The United Potato Growers of Canada estimates up to 18% of Manitoba’s spud crops will not be possible to harvest, leaving even the basic french fry lover fried and alone with their peelings. The damage is done. The best-case scenario will have us see smaller potatoes in the sacks and higher prices. A plate of poutine will also cost more, the fries shorter, but at least you can count on the gravy being hot, and the curdled cheese still melted.

Although poutine has been adopted and enjoyed by all of Canada and even around the world, the original delicacy was born in Quebec and notre Quebecois do it best. It is part of our culture and identity. It is said that a restaurant back in 1950’s once known as ‘Le Lutin qui rit’ located in the town of Warwick in Arthabaska, Quebec and owned by Fernand Lachance is the true birthplace of the poutine. The story goes that Fernand would serve french fries on a plate and cover it with gravy to keep it warm, sometimes with a plate of cheese curds on the side. Then in 1957, a customer, Eddy Lainesse, asked him to mix in the curds with the fries and pour the hot gravy on top. Lachance apparently cried out ‘Ça va faire une maudite poutine!’ (It will make a damn mess) and the poutine was born. There are other claims to its origin, but this one is the most widespread. Since then, the cheese curdled dish has seen other toppings added to it; from bacon, lobster, smoked meat, pork, hot dogs to avocado, caramelized onions, fried eggs and even caramel with marshmallows and more. However, a true Quebecer takes it straight up and it even brings the ‘two solitudes’ together like nothing else can.  ‘Je me souviens’, I remember – and in this case, it is the original dish with warm stringy-cheese.

By: Bonnie Wurst – [email protected]

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