When I first came to Canada about five years ago, it was quite the culture shock.
I remember my friends and I in high school in the Middle East, giggling over the strange sound of names like Mississauga and Saskatchewan. I had to be taught strange currencies such as loonies and toonies once I’d arrived. I still remember running outside my first-year residence in my pyjamas in November to see snow for the first time. But one of the greatest Canadian traditions I’ve encountered yet is — yes, you guessed it — poutine; one of the country’s greatest national treasures.
I was admittedly skeptical at first as to how gravy-coated fries covered in cheese curds could be any good, but now I say, “HOW CAN IT NOT BE?!” Truth be told, the only reason why I believe Americans diss Canadians so much is because they didn’t think of the glorious invention first. ANYWAY, this brings me to the point of this article, which is Poutine Week! Poutine is so great, there’s a whole week made up for it. This week, I went on the poutine trail to scope out Take5Eats, located in Kitchener near the Forest Glen Terminal.
Going off the beaten trail, this place is exclusively a poutinerie/creperie, which makes for an amazing children/adult’s birthday combo if you think about it. Featuring an MS Paint-styled logo, it took my friend and I a while to get there (about 40 minutes from campus). I really hoped the food would be worth it. Something that Yelp had neglected to mention is that it has zero sitting space, even though the place looks like it could fit at least an extra counter and some chairs in there. However, the smell of gravy floated tantalisingly through the air as two employees hustled through the kitchen, simultaneously cooking and taking orders. This place was clearly popular as a takeout joint.
Take5Eats offers a great range of poutine from the classics, to pulled pork to carb-filled overdoses of pierogi poutine. I opted for the “Newfie poutine,” which is the place’s spin on a far east classic with vegetarian “turkey” stuffing and sage-seasoned peas added to the classic combo.
While eating my poutine at a Tim Horton’s nearby (which I now realize is the most Canadian thing ever), it was abundantly clear that this poutine was so, so good and well worth the trek. The fries were perfect, hand-cut with love and still crispy even though they’d been soaked in an unspeakably delicious brown gravy that was a cacophony of meaty richness, without being overly salty. The cheese curds were squeaky, yet melted enough to just coat the mixture. The classic portion of the meal was great. Unfortunately, the stuffing fell down before I even started. I’d eyed a staff member plop two boxes of Uncle Ben’s Bistro Style Stuffing and prayed fervently they weren’t for me, but alas they were. Thick and gluey, it did nothing to complement the rest of the heavenly dish. Thankfully, the peas were a surprisingly quick save, going well with the gravy and reminding me of a latent Thanksgiving feast.
On the other hand, my friend’s supreme order turned out more successfully, evidenced by how quickly he wolfed it down. Cheese sauce, bacon crumble, green onions, and sour cream were added to your conventional fries, gravy, and cheese curds, which made for a truly decadent, this-is-so-bad-for-you-but-so-good bite. I’m not going to lie, the cheese sauce was that of the gloriously fake orange variety that accompanies most movie theatre nachos, but that somehow added to the charm of it all (and I personally like the overly processed mystery cheese).
Overall, this adventure was a great success, punctuated by a 10-minute walk to the Forest Glen Terminal. Although it had been far off the beaten poutine trail, I was more than grateful for having taken a chance on such a great experience.
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