Poutine (pronounced, roughly, poo-teen, peuh-tin, or peuh-tsin; Audio clip by a Québecois), similar to American disco fries, is a popular snack. It is a mixture of French fries with fresh cheddar cheese curds, covered with gravy. The curds' freshness (typically made the day before) is most important as it makes them soft in the warm fries, without completely melting. A poutine with melting cheese is not regarded as a 'genuine poutine', as are poutines made with shredded cheese or cheese slices (which melts too).
It originated in rural Quebec, Canada in the late 1950s and is now popular all over the country, especially in New Brunswick. It is a good snack in winter if the fries and cheese are fresh and the gravy is hot enough to slightly melt everything together.
The exact origin of the name is unknown, but some believe it is derived from the English word "pudding", used in the slang sense of "a mess" or in the sense of "dessert". Some pretends that poutine's origin is from Warwick,_Quebec, Drummondville,_Quebec, or Victoriaville,_Quebec.
Poutine is a fast-food staple in Quebec and New Brunswick, and is sold by nearly all fast-food chains in the provinces, as well as by smaller diners. International chains like McDonalds, A&W and Burger King sell poutine in (and increasingly outside of) Quebec, but their product is scorned by many as being an inferior reproduction. A common variation, Italian poutine, substitutes gravy with spaghetti sauce, while another popular variation includes sausage slices. Some restaurants boast a dozen or more variations of poutine.
When ordering a fast-food trio or combo in Québec, you can almost always pay a small extra to get your french fries replaced by a poutine.
In 2000, comedian Rick Mercer successfully convinced then-presidential candidate George W. Bush to accept the endorsement of his "good friend Jean Poutine". The then-Prime Minister's name was Jean Chrétien. The segment aired as a Talking To Americans sketch on the political satire show This Hour Has 22 Minutes. The success of this has been highly disputed, as Bush was being swarmed by reporters and Mercer was not speaking clearly.
In New Brunswick, a traditional Acadian dish known as poutine râpée is rather different from the "poutine québécoise". The Acadian version is a ball of grated potato, salted and filled with pork in the centre. It is believed to have originated from the German Klöße, prepared by early German settlers who lived among the Acadians.