Why We Love Quebec


On a recent swing through the Laurentians, some friends and I came across Yvan des Patates, a steamy-windowed casse-croute in Bellefeuille that someone in the car said serves the best poutine in the province. Although we were already late for a Hungarian bacon-roasting party (and thus should have been in an artery red-alert), we pulled over to investigate. The shack's name is a pun: it means both "Yvan of the Potatoes" and "He Sells Potatoes." Yvan himself speaks a colorful joual, as we learned when he told us to hurry up, tabarnack, and get our orders in. His unbuttoned shirt revealed a large scar from open-heart surgery, which somehow wasn't that surprising given the greasiness of his fries and their gloopy sauce. It was a pretty classic poutine, simple and homey, unlike the nouvelle-version poutines that have been popping up on menus in Old Montreal. We asked him if he'd heard about lobster claw poutines and he looked at us like we were kooky. "I've been making the same sauce for 31 years," Yvan told us proudly. "It's the reason my wife's stayed with me this long."

Subscribe to Gourmet