The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 03.02.04


Affinity group: Poutine, potatoes, potholes

I've got to get my two cents worth in regarding a topic of great concern. It seems everyone is talking about potholes these days, and rightfully so.

The state of Quebec roads leaves a bad taste in mouths across the province as craters wreak havoc. I just may have a solution that will save municipalities and the government tons of bucks in road repair costs.

Let me explain. I counted no less then twenty stories last week in this paper and others about the ongoing pothole nightmare.

Scott Taylor, who pens the Scottland column in the West Island Chronicle, even has a contest running looking for creative ways to remedy the pothole problem. He suggests that we create a solution that we can all do as a group. It's a call to action, if you will, and I am lending my support here.

What does all this have to do with food, you say? The answer is simple.

Our poor potato growers are having a hard time selling their crop these days due to the masses rejecting anything that contains carbohydrates and it appears that the Atkins diet phenomenon is unfriendly towards the potato.

There's a glut and prices have dipped as low as five cents per pound for an item that once forced thousands of Irish from their homeland to cross the Atlantic in miserable conditions. Unfortunately, they could not predict that a century later their main staple would be suggested as use for filling potholes in their new land.

Here is an economic and practical solution, folks. I'm suggesting that we fill all those craters with the lowly spud. I don't mean simply dumping whole Idahos into a hole. I mean using that famous Quebec glue-based concoction - poutine.

Quebec surveys say that the average resident eats one of these a week. Another survey says that they only eat 75 per cent of it.

What happens to the leftovers?

They are wasted. So, by my napkin-figuring we should be able to reuse the leftover 25 per cent as pothole fill. Let's see, we have a chance to instill national (provincial) pride and repair roads at the same time. How bad can that be?

I trust you'll cooperate by dumping your future leftovers into the next pothole you see.

In the meantime, here is a suggestion to take advantage of the abundance of potatoes at currently good prices.

Cheddar potato soup with bacon

4 bacon slices
1 large onion
1 lb. boiling potatoes
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry, white wine
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar (about 8 oz.)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Chop bacon and in a large heavy saucepan, cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in pan. While bacon is cooking, chop onion. Peel potatoes and cut into half-inch cubes. Cook onion in reserved fat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.

In a measuring cup, stir together flour and water; add to onion with potatoes & broth. Simmer mixture for five minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. Add wine and simmer one minute. Reduce heat to low; gradually stir in Cheddar (do not let boil). Divide soup among four bowls; sprinkle with bacon and chives. Makes about five cups.