Poutine Only Sounds Like a Nasty Word

Canada - Montreal November 2015 037If you have never heard of poutine, don’t worry. We hadn’t either until our home exchange partners from Toronto mentioned that we had to try it once in Montreal. One of our trips to the tourist office,we asked the guide there, where to get some good poutine. I really had this feeling like I was asking someone about the best brothel in town. Poutine has that kind of sound when said out loud.

The tourism man prefaced his response with “You can get it anywhere.” The way he said it added to the clandestine feeling, but he was gracious enough to write down suggestions. Two were chain restaurants, but three others were independent restaurants that are ‘known’ for their poutine.

With our list in hand, we were ready for the poutine challenge. Looking for the closest restaurant, we found the street where the Montreal Pool Room is located. There was something about the name Pool Room that endeared us to getting poutine for the first time. It felt like a rite of passage: poutine – pool room. It gave me the feeling like this would be something I would have to confess to a priest had I still been a Catholic.

Ron and I walked up and down the street looking for the building number on our paper. It was not to be found. We had reached the entrance to China Town, but still no pool room. On the way back down the street, we saw a couple of police officers in the small park talking to a man who was cleanly dressed and well-groomed. They looked to be conversing as opposed to an interrogation. When I approached, I found it to be the latter, even without understanding the French he muttered.

Ron decided to stop at the ticket office on the corner. We had purchased theater tickets from them, so they owed us a favor. A different young woman was there this time, but was still friendly and helpful enough to Google the restaurant. There was an incorrect building number, so it turned out to be three doors down from our Internet helper. This did not give us much confidence if she didn’t know the poutine was within a stones throw.

Well if we had not been looking on the wrong side of the street due to having the wrong number, we would have seen we passed the restaurant three times. From first glance, it looks like an old-fashioned restaurant with a grill in the window, order and seat yourself. That is exactly what it is.

Ron is his cuteness tells the two older guys behind the counter “This is our first poutine.” They look like refugees from the Sopranos. Had times been different, I could picture them having with cigars half burned down, hanging out of their mouths while serving the food. Giving Ron the “I have Poutineheard this a million times and I don’t give a sh*t look”, asked what he wanted.

Getting our poutine, we took it to a table and was ready to savor this Montreal taste treat. Honestly, we can’t figure out what the hubbub is all about. Tasty, yes, but worthy of any culinary recognition, it goes to the back burner for sure.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.