Though not ideal for dieters, poutine, which originated in the Canadian province of Quebec, is a wintertime comfort food that some consider Canada's national dish. The most common recipe calls for French fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in brown gravy. A number of variations exist with some cooks adding extras like bacon, ground beef, baked beans or sausage. The gravy and fries are served hot, but the cheese component is added at room temperature so that it warms and partially melts but remains solid instead of turning soupy.
Though it has made its way onto the menus of fast-food restaurants and fine dining establishments alike in Quebec, Quebecois did not always celebrate the dish. Many people used to think of it as junk food that belonged in the kind of diners that are still open after the bars close. That changed after restaurant owners noticed people ordering the fries, curds, and gravy separately and then combining them to create their own poutine. Now, poutine is almost universally available in Canada and is popular in some regions of the U.S. as well.