Fries, gravy and cheese curds: poutine. now being embroiled in a question of cultural appropriation.

Fries, gravy and cheese curds:= poutine. now being embroiled in a question of cultural appropriation.
Photo Credit: via CBC

Whose junk food is it anyway?


Claims of “cultural appropriation” of poutine

It seems the conflicts over the contentious isse of “cultural appropriation” is now involving a fast food dish in Canada.

Poutine, a mix of fried potato chips, a brown gravy, and cheese curds, was created in Quebec in the 1950’s.

The butt of many jokes and even political cartoons for decades, in recent years it’s been greatly elevated in status, even being labelled a Canadian national dish.  It even inspired a canapé at a White House state dinner for Prime Minister Trudeau in 2016 where then-President Obama said he wanted “our Canadian friends to feel at home”.

Now a Montreal born graduate student is saying that Canadian claims to poutine is in effect, a Canadian cultural appropriation of “Quebecois food culture”

Graduate student FAbien-Ouellet says Canada is *appropriating* an iconic Quebec dish.
Graduate student Nicholas Fabien-Ouellet says Canada is *appropriating* an iconic Quebec dish. © Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet-UVM

Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, a Montreal-born graduate student at the University of Vermont, wrote a paper called Poutine Dynamics which was published in CuiZine online magazine in 2016.

In the abstract he says, “Coupling poutine’s sociohistorical stigma and its growing Canadization (that is, the presentation, not the consumption per say, of poutine as a Canadian dish), two related situations—the ongoing process of poutine culinary appropriation and the threat of Quebecois cultural absorption by Canadians—are exposed”.

The paper will be presented this week at Ryerson Univeristy in Toronto, Ontario at a Congress of the Humanties and Social Sciences as part of the Oh Humanities series.

He says the paper exposes “how the Canadian culinary identity is constructed and construed by means of cultural appropriation processes.”

The winner in Quebec’s unofficial provincial dish...pate chinois- chinese pate- a layer of ground beef, corn, and topped iwth mashed potato., a slight variation of English (Scottish) shepherd’s pie.
The winner of Quebec’s unofficial provincial dish survey…pate chinois- (chinese pate)- a layer of ground beef, corn, and topped with mashed potato: a slight Quebec variation of English (Scottish) shepherd’s pie. © Radio-Canada

Of course, poutine is now used as the basis for all kinds of modifications in areas across the country where local ingredients are often added.

In 2007, “Le Devoir” which is considered to be the authoritative French-language newspaper in Quebec conducted a survey to determine the what should be considered as the “Quebecois” provincial dish.

It was not poutine.   It was instead “pâté chinois”  which is in fact a slight variation on the English (Scottish), shepherd’s pie.

So far, the U.K. has not made any claims against Quebec for cultural appropriation of its dish.

Additional information-sources

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Health, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.