An Illicit Desire

This story was written with Lauren Stein’s Poutine Anthology project in mind. Here it is!

An Illicit Desire

I think that the reason why poutine and I went so far wrong is because my mom, to use the technical term in gastronomy, was a blasphemer. There are two main schools of thought when it comes to experimenting with the potato-cheese-gravy trifecta: those that encourage it, and those that don’t, but I doubt that any school could rationalize this behaviour.

The true connaisseurs discuss at length, no doubt, about the ideal cut and texture of those starchy delights, the merits of gravies that include wine, or sauces out of dry mixes versus “from-scratch” (believe it or not, Patati Patata uses a dry mix.) But one generally accepted tenet is that the cheese must squeak against the eater’s teeth; the cheese must be curds.

My mom used mozzarella every time. No, I’m serious.

I’m not sure when I realized that something wasn’t quite…wholesome about my mother’s “poutine” – if you can even call it that. I never knew what curds were until I got older – old enough, say, to eat out on my own, and young enough to still want hotdogs when I did. Small wonder, really, that I didn’t much like poutine, when I was eating but the facsimile of the stuff.

When Poutine and I finally met, we had a lot of catching up to do, and I had a lot to learn. I had a lot of questions about what “family fry” really meant, and whether it was acceptable to put the gravy before the curds, and what made the ideal melt ratio.

But I still dreamt of blasphemy. From time to time, as misguided as those tourists who asked where they could get some Putin (Russia), or where to ask for Puttin’ (Golf Town, maybe?), I dreamt of mozzarella and St. Hubert barbecue sauce in the paper packet. It ruined my relationship with the real thing.

Why did my mom do it? Maybe because curds are even more unhealthy than normal cheese, or because it would be expensive to make poutine with curds for three bottomless children. I don’t know, but one day I hope to forgive her.

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