Log Cabin Chronicles

greg duncan

© 1998 John Mahoney

The Gallivanting Gourmand

Quebec Cuisine


Quebec is distinct all right and some of our favorite foods you won't find elsewhere. We have some downright peculiar tastes that have seen the culinary encyclopedia expand its listings to include a plethora of Quebec food fetishes.

Quirky Quebec items include such delicacies as guedille, pizzagetti, and a dish that we are really famous for, poutine. Crêtons comes to mind as does smoked meat.

Pancakes are crêpes and hot dogs are steamés or toastés. An all-dressed steamé is served sans ketchup or relish but always includes choux (cabbage) and mustard. Try to order the same in the U.S. and you will be sure to confound summer carhops at the drive-in.

The choux that adorns an "all dress" is not complete without its necessary vinegar dressing -- Quebeckers love vinegar. Especially on their fries, or frites as they are known here.

We do not like the fancy stuff, either -- we use the good old white stuff from tiny plastic throw-away packets. This of course goes with the tradition that confirms that the best frites always come from a converted old school bus parked by the side of the road.

These buses still serve children but in a different educational capacity: that of the university of frites.

Frites without sauce would be a serious crime here. The thick spicy gravy we love serves to provide us with the aforementioned Quebec classic poutine. A cantine just would not cut the mustard if it did not serve frite sauce. Fresh curd cheese, greasy frites, and a lot of sauce make for the perfect accompaniment to everything Quebecois.

Just ask a Tremblay or a Roy and they will confirm this. You won't have trouble finding someone of that name here although more than likely they are of Irish descent which may explain why Quebeckers love potatoes so much.

We like pizza, too, and sometimes we like it with spaghetti.

Pizzagetti is truly one of those items that allow you to enjoy the better of both worlds. Quebec and everywhere else being the two worlds that is.

An order of pizzagetti comes with some pizza (duh!) and some getti, ummm, spaghetti on the side. As I learned recently, a true pizzagetti comes with the spaghetti on top of the pizza as a topping.

There's nothing quite like starch on starch to confirm your status as a true Quebecker.

If you are in the know and a vegetarian then you may order a guedille. This concoction is basically an all dressed a toasté without the hot dog or sometimes with chicken, but that is really not economic for a cantine vendor.

Smoked meat is a Montreal tradition and purists will tell you that it does not compare to pastrami or corned beef, as it is often described. Although commonly served on rye with a side of brine pickle and a dollop of mustard, the comparison ends there.

Montreal smoked meat (beef) has its own je ne sais quoi and may even appear in spaghetti sauces, alongside pizza or in a tangy sauce as a smoked meat-poutine. This addition is perplexing but proves that Quebec ingenuity is practical. We love smoked meat so why not add it to our pizza, spaghetti, and poutine?

A Quebec breakfast just would not be right without crêtons and baked beans and savvy breakfast joints know this. The crêtons are often served in a mini dixie cup, as are the baked beans that allow dunking of pain maison (toast).

Your oeufs tourné (eggs easy over) and patates maison (home fries) are fortified by crêtons. This concoction of ground pork and lard with a dash of allspice is everywhere in Quebec but I have yet to see it outside of this province.

Louisiana may have heard of it but no doubt it's taken on a cajun identity and as a friend so aptly put it, it is a "spread."

Next time you are in Quebec, order your breakfast this way. Although politically incorrect perhaps, you nonetheless will get breakfast.

You: "Two heggs facing hup de sun, side by heach. Two bacon parallel to da plate, two toasts ,1 cup juice, 1 glass coffee, 1 Pepsi, 1 Jos Louis all dressed."

Waitress: "You stupid Henglish person, go away to your Henglish place and take your stupid Henglish money with you."

Ah...such is Quebec, a place where even breakfast requires a referendum before ordering and where crecirc;tons serve to spread the word. We like our food just the way it is, thank you, and we insist that we preserve its identity. We don't want you to bastardize our mother's tongues either...I mean, our mother tongue.

Don't ever call our smoked meat pastrami or our frites sauce fries with gravy.

Don't ask for ketchup and relish on your all-dressed hot dog either. Don't ask for malt vinegar for your fries 'cause we don't have any and please don't call our crêtons spread, and if you dare order a Coke instead of a Pepsi, we will be forced to kill you.

Please come visit us soon and experience our country. Bienvenue!

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