MONTY TREMBLANT AND THE HOLY GRAIL OF POUTINE
by Todd Hartley
I just got back from a vacation to Quebec earlier this week, so if I accidentally lapse into French in this column please excusez-moi. Actually, I should have learned from my time in French Canada that I should never speak French with anyone who actually speaks French, as the conversation inevitably goes something like this:
Me: “Bon jour.”
French-speaking person: “Bon jour. Ca va bien?”
French-speaking person: “Bkhkjblkjb dkfbdlkgfbkd lkbsbsug ifhdifdi kbtvvub cvuvaustv jihfb ibdfpibfg.”
Me: “Sorry. I don’t speak French.”
Fortunately, most people in Quebec also speak English gooder than I do, too, so once we’ve established that I’m barely monolingual, we’re typically able to hold a conversation.
Speaking of conversations, I overheard an interesting one the day before I made the drive to Mont Tremblant. My aunt and uncle were headed to a memorial service for my uncle’s brother, and I heard my aunt say the following sentence, which I swear I’m not making up, “Thank God he died before the funeral.”
Apparently they scheduled the service before the old geezer had even kicked the bucket. Imagine how awkward it would have been if he didn’t die and had been able to attend his own funeral? Would he still have climbed into the casket just to give people something to look at? I think that would have been the polite thing to do if he hadn’t had the decency to pass away first.
But back to Quebec.
On my first trip to la belle province six years ago, I discovered a dish called poutine, which is essentially french fries swimming in gravy and smothered in cheese curds. It may sound a little pedestrian, but it’s awesome. Since then, I’ve ordered it every time I’ve seen it on an American menu, but it always ends up being nothing more than fries drizzled with gravy with some shredded cheddar melted over the top, and it pales in comparison with its Canadian counterpart.
Being a dedicated poutine fan, I’ve obviously been clamoring to get back to Quebec to eat the genuine article. This time around, however, I was determined to find the finest poutine in the area, so I took to the Internet to see what recommendations people had. That’s when I discovered just how obsessed people other than I are with Quebec’s national dish.
A simple Internet search revealed scads of websites dedicated to poutine, including the following, which are all real: Poutine Pundit, Poutine Chronicles, Poutine War, Poutinville, Montreal Poutine, Midnight Poutine, La Poutine and even Vladimir Poutine, which begs the question: What do you get when you mix Vladimir Putin with a potato? (A dick-tater! Get it?)
Armed with my research, I sampled poutine at four different locations and came to exactly the same conclusion I reached six years ago: The best poutine in the Mont Tremblant area can be found at the snack bar of the mini-golf course in Mont Tremblant Centre-Ville, a town formerly known as St. Jovite. Why’d they change the name? I can’t say, but it brings the total number of Mont Tremblants to three, as there also are Mont Tremblant Village and Mont Tremblant Resort. It’s a little confusing unless you parle francais as formidably as I parle it.
Between bouts of stuffing my face with poutine, I spent time swimming in a lake, getting to know a Harris hawk that took great delight in flying as close to my head as possible, trying to save a baby deer and playing golf with a mysterious lumberjack-looking fellow named Gordie who swung so hard and hit the ball so far I had to ask if a golf ball had murdered his parents.
He was mum on that subject, which was odd, as he spent the rest of the round talking incessantly, letting me know, among other things, that he’d been taught how to hit a baseball by Barry Bonds himself and that he’d dropped out of high school at 16 and never had a job since he didn’t want to be “part of the machine,” as he put it. He might have been telling the truth, but he also spent the entire round stoned, so I’m not sure if he knew what the truth was.
Naturally, I had to ask Gordie about poutine, and to no one’s surprise, this teller of tall tales claimed he actually made the best poutine around. Again, he might have thought he was telling the truth, but he did admit he’d never been to the mini-golf course.
Todd Hartley took French for seven years and remembers exactly seven words of it.