Poutine, Just a Fancy Way to Say ¨Canadian Nachos¨

Written By: jeff

Posted On: September 26th, 2011

poutine, career break travel adventures in Canada

Yummy Poutine! Copyright

Before I headed up to Canada a few weeks ago, I did a quick search to find out what typified Canadian cuisine. Almost immediately, I found lots of references to ¨Poutine.¨ I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce it. Was it poh-tyn, poo-tyn, poh-tyn-ee??? Turns out, I was completely wrong. It’s pronounced, poo-teen.

Hmmm. Didn’t sound very appetizing. 

But, I figured, it’s potatoes and gravy. Has to be good right? The wild card would be the cheese curds. Wasn’t sure I was going to like that little combo.

After a week traveling in Canada, I landed in Edmonton. After my early morning interview with Global TV, I asked the anchors and production staff, what should we do this afternoon? I had previously been told that the mall was not too be missed. Biggest in North America! 5th largest in the world! *Sigh*

Surely, the TV crew would give us a good, hidden suggestion. They told us to go walk along the River Valley Path. That sounded good. And, we had driven past it earlier and it did look beautiful.

But, the weather wasn’t going to let it. It got cold, windy was threatening to rain. So, West Edmonton Mall here we come!

Enter Poutine

poutine, new york fries, career break travel adventures in Canada

New York Fries. How Canadian can this really be? Copyright

After a lunchtime interview with CTV, we headed to the mall and wound up eventually at the food court. The poutinerie (yes, that’s what it was called), caught my eye. I figured, now was the time to give it whirl.

Tim, my colleague and friend from Gap Adventures, ordered the ¨Classic Poutine¨: fries, cheese curd and brown gravy.

poutine, new york fries, career break travel adventures in Canada

Close up of the classic poutine. Copyright

I went with ¨The Works¨: fries, sour cream, cheese sauce, green onions and bacon.

poutine, canadian nachos, career break travel adventures in Canada

The Works! This really looked like nachos. Copyright

Don’t worry kids, the menu at New York Fries is trans-fat free! It’s practically health food.


(Honestly, was there ever any doubt?)

Why Poutine Is Canadian Nachos

poutine, canadian nachos, career break travel adventures in Canada

Going. Going. Copyright

While eating my poutine, and having a taste of Tim’s, it struck me that poutine is nothing more than Canadian nachos. It just has a name that sounds (to the foreigner at least) more high-brow.

  1. Both have a fried carb base: corn chips or potatoes
  2. Both are topped with whatever toppings you want
  3. Both are finished off with a sauce of some type
  4. Both are finger foods.
  5. Both are comfort foods.
poutine, canadian nachos, career break travel adventures in Canada

GONE! Copyright

Once I made the connection between poutine and nachos, my next question was: Why has this not taken off in the US…especially when the fast food place where we ate is called New York Fries???

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27 Responses to “Poutine, Just a Fancy Way to Say ¨Canadian Nachos¨”

  1. Maria says:

    I was living in Montana, nearest Poutine supply was 6 hours away in Lethbridge, Alberta @ The Red Dog Diner – well worth the trip!

  2. Angie Orth says:

    Never had it but dying to try it! I could eat nachos every day, so I’m guessing poutine will be just the same. Great post!

  3. jeff says:

    @Maria, you are a die-hard fan.
    @Angie, you have to try it! Of course, not really too hard to make at home.

  4. Melvin says:

    That looks soooo yummy! I would like to have a poutine right at this moment! :)

  5. Canadian’s get their nachos done right! :)

  6. Juno says:

    mmmm…. poutine….!!! I had pleasant experiences with Poutine in Quebec. Those are just so good!!
    Here’s my post:

  7. Stefano Pedroni says:

    Most delicious “junk food” ever!! Best of the best after a long day skiing 😉

  8. This would be good if it didn’t have the gravy on it.

  9. Brooke vs. The world says:

    Oh my yum!

  10. I love the comparison. I love both nachos and poutine, so I think you hit the nail on the head. By the way, great Interview on CTV Edmonton too! We start our own regular segment on CTV Canada talking travel next week. Very excited and I made sure to study you for pointers:-)

  11. jeff says:

    Thanks for all the comments guys. @Stephanie, that’s why I got the works. But, honestly, the original was pretty tasty too.

  12. Stephen says:

    I love poutine. I had it everyday I was in Canada. I also published this post: Portraits of Poutine:

  13. I have yet to understand why poutine has not made it to the US, but then again I’m not one to share my homely poutine :-)

    It’s a shame though that Canada has decided it was a national dish, as it was invented in Quebec and still remains a very Quebec-ish dish. But that might be the nationalist fiber talking, haha!

  14. Jake says:

    Not comparable in the sense that nachos are available pretty much everywhere in the US (even 7-11, gas stations etc…). Poutine is a regional dish that is common in Quebec, but much less so everywhere else in Canada. In fact, outside of major cities, it is hard to find it except at the food court mall chains (which is no more authentic than nachos at TacoBell). As someone born and raised in western Canada, I find it amusing to hear people refer to it as a Canadian Dish. I was in my late teens visiting Montreal before I ever heard of it. I live in a community of about 100K currently and I’m betting there isn’t a plate of poutine to be found within 50kms (and then only in a food court or chain). If you want authentic poutine, you have to go to a Quebec Mum and Pop greasy spoon, not New York Fries at W. Ed. Mall. Sadly, Canada is too big and diverse a country to have a national dish, only regional favourites.

  15. jeff says:

    Jake, thanks for the comment and perspective. No doubt that New York Fries isn’t the real deal. Just happened to be where I first ate it. I will be sure to try the authentic poutine on my next trip back…in Quebec.

  16. Don Faust says:

    mmmm… poutine! We tried poutine for the first time in Quebec City. Initially, we thought it was a fancier signature Canadian dish, until we realized it was kind of after-the-bar food, served at this fast food joint that apparently invented the stuff. Nonetheless, we thought it was really good. I had to laugh at the Poutinerie sign…. give me the works!

  17. While I’m back home in Canada for 2 weeks this winter I’m going to eat poutine literally 3 meals a day every day.
    Breakfast = Poutine with egg and bacon mixed in.
    Lunch = Classic Poutine
    Dinner = A more classy poutine, maybe with some veggies and strips of steak mixed in.
    Midnight snack = What ever I can get my hands on after a night drinking too many Crown Royales

  18. Cailin says:

    om nom nom poutine!!!

  19. I didn’t see any with a “the works” option when I was there…I feel like I was cheated because that looks delicious!

  20. Jamie B says:

    FYI, ‘the works’ is not a poutine just the gravy and cheese version is. You cheated yourself out of true poutine heaven

  21. jeff says:

    You’re probably right Jamie. Of course, I didn’t get them from the most authentic place anyway! Next time, for sure!

  22. Kristen says:

    I live in Edmonton and that is not the best poutine. Look up the restaurant “La Poutine” for a great taste experience. Tons of varieties :)

  23. jeff says:

    Kristen, I will not argue with you there. I’d go even further and say that anything eaten at a mall food court isn’t authentic anything. Next time, I’ll definitely go for the real thing. Thanks for the tip!

  24. I love them!! I can’t believe they don’t have them in the us! Somebody open up a canadian fast food chain!!!

  25. Ameris says:

    I’ve had these in the US, but here they’re called “Disco Fries”. It might just be an upstate New York thing though, I don’t know that I’ve had them anywhere else.

  26. Michelel says:

    Wait… I didn’t realize that the states doesn’t have poutine!! You guys are missing out :)

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