I eat a fair amount of poutine. Not like daily or anything, that would be dangerous. Foolish even. (Plus poutine goes right to my thighs) To me, poutine is something you indulge in every once in a while. A brief meal (typically enjoyed inebriated) to remind you and those around you about your thoughts on dieting. We all end up 6 feet under sooner or later, I’d prefer to spend some of my time enjoying something I love. French Fries, Gravy, and a helping handful or two of fresh Cheese Curds. That’s a dish made with love! I’ve eaten poutine all over Canada, and while I clearly have several more establishments to sample, I can’t help but write about Chez Ashtons in Quebec City.
Chez Ashtons, the birthplace of poutine
There will always be alternative views, but Chez Ashtons is believed to be the inventor of poutine. There’s been many claims in the past, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just happy Quebec shared this dish with the rest of Canada. If you speak with the locals and let them know you’re going to Chez Ashtons, you’ll either get a big smile and a thumbs up, or a clicking tongue with frowning shaking face. Perhaps it’s because of the Fast Food nature of Chez Ashtons. Many people feel a cultural dish as incredible as poutine shouldn’t be served in under 5 minutes. I clearly don’t share that philosophy.
I had just left some post Crashed Ice celebrations, which included partaking in a couple St Patricks Day beverages with my younger sister. All that partying and excitement worked up a serious hunger. It was time. We made the trip down Rue Saint-Jean, stumbling past groups of drunk french speaking teenagers and adults. We stayed on course, “This is no time to socialize!”. We came upon Chez Ashtons and B-lined it into line.
Deux très grand Poutine s’il vous plait
I ordered in my best french, which unfortunately after a few drinks, is also considered my worst. The lovely girl behind the counter laughed and deciphered whatever it is I said to her. A couple minutes later we were presented with two large dishes of original poutine. Nothing fancy, no extras, no pieces of sausages or splashes of weird sauces. Just a straight up traditional Quebecois poutine.
I observed this poutine. Crisp fresh cut fries, ooey gooey gravy, and cheese curds the size of human digits. It was beautiful! A drunk man can only observe food like that for so long. My fork quickly made contact with the dish, and crushing ensued. The fries retained their strength, which is to say they didn’t become a soggy mess. The curds were thoroughly spread throughout the fries, ensuring I didn’t eat all of them before getting to the bottom. It was the perfect Poutine. Simple, elegant, and crafted with years of experience. I high fived my sister and laughed, “Wow, that was crazy good! Quebec does poutine right!”.
Have you ever enjoyed a Chez Ashtons poutine? Ever come across a poutine that’s better? Comment below or toss me a tweet @ibackpackcanada!