A Traditional Dish or a Dang Mess?

By Jim Barta

Bemidji, MN, United States

Quebec is a province in Canada heavily influenced by French culture and language. It is a diverse land of large cities, as well as numerous lakes and rivers. Quebec is home for some of the most diverse communities in the world including First Nations and other people from around the world. In Quebec numerous cultures live and work together while sharing a national pride, yet often maintaining traditional culture and customs.


Festivals, many of them celebrating arts, music, and culture, abound throughout the year and are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Several of Quebec’s larger cities play host to these events such as Montreal and Quebec City. Quebec City, the capital of Quebec, is a North American community that has been in existence for nearly 500 years!


Nearly all visitors to Quebec province are encouraged to try a local delicacy, called poutine. Poutine is a Canadian dish made with French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds. In fact, it’s so popular, fast food restaurants like McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King offer poutine as a major item on their menus.


While many claim to be the first to make poutine, those who know believe it was invented in Warwick, Quebec. In the 1950s at a local festival, a guest requested a handful of cheese curds be added to his fries. The servers replied, “Ça va faire une maudite poutine!” (“It will make a dang mess!”) The gravy was later added to keep the fries warmer for a longer period of time.

So, next time you order fries at your local restaurant, make une maudite poutine by adding a handful of cheese curds and a spoonful of gravy!

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stilt fisherman in Sri Lanka
Stilt fisherman in Sri Lanka


Math Resources
  1. Calista is a high school student living in Burlington, Vermont. Her 30-person choir is planning a trip to Quebec City for spring break. A friend of hers said she absolutely must try a local snack called poutine. At a local restaurant, each serving of poutine costs C$4.65 (Canadian dollars). In addition, the server charges an extra C$10.00 to serve such a large group. What will the total bill be for the group?
  2. Find the exchange rate for Canadian dollars versus US dollars. What will the above bill cost in US dollars?
Extension Question

What are the traditional foods of your culture or country? What would be lost if those dishes didn’t exist?

Explore Further
  1. How to make poutine
  2. Detailed information about Canada’s First Nations
  3. More information about poutine
  4. Even more information about poutine
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