New Delhi, Dec 14: Almost half a century ago, a trucker stopped by a little cafe in Quebec in Canada and asked for french fries with cheese curds and some gravy.
Perplexed by the odd choice of culinary components, the cook at the cafe said, "It will make a complete poutine (mess)," but proceeded anyway to invent what has now become the most popular food across the Great White North.
With Christmas celebrations already in full swing in Canada, Chef Curtis Pintye, the incumbent head Chef at the Canada House here, has attempted to recreate the essence of the ongoing festivities and put up a delectable Christmas spread from the country.
"If you ask folks in Canada which is 'the' Canadian dish, poutine is the one that comes on the top," the Chef says. Poutine, which is a slang for messy is part of the a la carte menu of the food spread here.
"With the french fries, melted cheese and the gravy, it is really a messy kind of a dish, but it is messy more in the context of old leftover food," he says.
Often consumed independently as a snack back in Canada, the cheese curds in Poutine are made from fresh cow's milk by splitting the fat out using rennet.
"The cheese curds are similar to paneer except that paneer is set with vinegar whereas these are set with rennet which comes from the stomach of baby cows," he says.
The brown coloured gravy is traditionally a light and thin chicken, veal, or turkey gravy, mildly spiced with a hint of pepper, or a sauce brune which is a combination of beef and chicken stock.
The Canadian cuisine, according to the chef, is largely "rustic" and "simple" often reflecting their way of life. "A lot of the traditional Canadian food is rustic and simple.
It is really a kind of the thing of the peasant, sort of working hard, cold weather type of food. We aren't complicated people," Chef Curtis quips.
Tourtiere or the meat pie which is usually stuffed with finely diced pork, veal or beef is a traditional dish that has been served by generations of French-Canadian families, is one such example.
Vegetarians can dig into the 'Stuffing,' which is prominent in both Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners across Canada. Essentially bread and vegetables, it is often eaten in conjunction with cranberry sauce.
A Canadian Christmas meal is conspicuously incomplete without the roasted turkey and the traditional sides of sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes.
A perfect combination of gooey and crunchy, sweet potato casseroles are serve up with a marshmallow topping and a little nutmeg for flavor.