“Poutine’s humble beginnings in rural Quebec have blossomed into a global culinary phenomenon, embodying the spirit of Canadian innovation and cultural pride. As it celebrates its 60th anniversary, poutine stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of a simple dish that has captured hearts and taste buds around the world.”

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Poutine, that deliciously indulgent combination of cheese curds, fries, and gravy, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. While many attribute its creation to Jean-Claude Roy in Drummondville, Que. in 1964, the true origins of poutine can be traced back to Fernand Lachance and his wife Germaine in Warwick, Que. It was at their restaurant, L’Idéal (later Le Lutin qui Rit), where the word “poutine” first appeared on a menu in 1957, during a time when Quebec was under the influence of Duplessis and the Catholic Church held significant power.

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Interestingly, the original poutine didn’t include gravy, as Mr. Lachance in Warwick wasn’t a fan. It wasn’t until around 1962 that Mrs. Lachance added her sauce as a side dish, completing the iconic trio of ingredients. However, it was Roy in 1964, a professional saucier, who was the first to bring all three main ingredients together: cheese curds, gravy, and fries. This historical account is detailed in the book “Poutine Nation,” which was released in 2021.

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The dish’s popularity grew rapidly, with chip trucks spreading it across rural Quebec. Ashton Leblond, the founder of the Ashton restaurants, further popularized poutine in the Quebec City region in 1972, emphasizing the importance of Quebec’s cheese curds in the dish.

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Today, poutine can be found on menus worldwide, from Washington to Shanghai, forever associated with Quebec and Canadian cuisine. Despite its global popularity, poutine has yet to receive the recognition it deserves on the international stage. UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, has been declaring intangible cultural heritage since 2003, including dishes like Neapolitan pizza, French baguette, and Chinese traditional tea. Canada, however, has not signed this convention, meaning no Canadian dish is currently on UNESCO’s list.

Canada has the opportunity to change this by not only becoming a signatory to the convention but also by nominating poutine as the first Canadian dish to be declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Poutine’s journey from a humble rural Quebec dish to a global culinary icon is a testament to its cultural significance, deserving of recognition on the world stage.

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Poutine’s success story is one of resilience and adaptation. It has evolved over the years, with variations that include toppings like pulled pork, foie gras, and even lobster. Despite these modern twists, the core elements of poutine remain unchanged, a testament to its enduring appeal.

Part of what makes poutine so special is its ability to bring people together. Whether you’re enjoying it at a roadside chip truck in rural Quebec or a trendy restaurant in a cosmopolitan city, poutine has a way of creating a sense of shared experience. It’s a dish that transcends borders and cultures, bringing a little piece of Quebec and Canada wherever it goes. Yes, it may be disgustingly unhealthy, but it is indeed iconic.

In addition to its cultural significance, poutine also has economic importance. It has become a symbol of Canadian identity, attracting tourists from around the world who want to experience this iconic dish firsthand. In Quebec, poutine is not just a dish; it’s an industry, supporting cheese curd producers, potato farmers, and restaurateurs across the province.

As we celebrate poutine’s 60th anniversary, let’s not just enjoy this delicious dish but also reflect on its cultural and economic impact. Let’s recognize poutine for what it is: a true Canadian success story and a culinary masterpiece that deserves its place among the world’s most beloved dishes.

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