Desperation Poutine

1 May 2009 at 12:11 am 12 comments

Ciao Bloggisti!

Well, here we are, week after my rant about Italy and I’m still peeved! This time for a problem at my daughter’s preschool. It’s a long and complicated story, too boring to explain in detail but basically they decided to close the school for three days because water was leaking from the roof. And even if my daughter’s class isn’t even in the same building as the school with the water leak, they magically found a bit of condensation in their classroom (it’s been raining non-stop here for four days straight) and the mayor declared their classroom as unsafe as well. How nice! Especially since there’s a long weekend coming up. That way the teachers can add three more days to their vacation!! The funny thing is, my son’s daycare is in the same building as my daughter’s class and they’re still open. Hmmm….

Ok, enough of my complaining! Let’s talk about something infinitely more interesting. FOOD! Since I’ve been feeling homesick of late, one evening I decided to make one of my favourite Canadian comfort foods: poutine. Quoi?? You don’t know the celestial concoction ofย  french fries, gravy and cheese curds? It was one of my go-to meals when I was a university student in Montreal as it was cheap, filling and the perfect cure for a hangover. There’s even a so-called Italian Poutine, made of fries, shredded mozzarella and bolognese sauce that you’d never actually findย  in Bologna but which I didn’t disdain either.

However, the other evening I wanted the real thing. I happened to have some leftover homemade chicken gravy and decided it was the perfect time to take a walk down Canadian culinary lane. I wanted to do things right so I fried my fries instead of baking them in the oven like I usually do. The only problem was that I didn’t have cheese curds. Hmmm, what would be a good substitute for curds? Why Asiago, of course! So I carefully assembled my Desperation Poutine: first the french fry base, then the Asiago and finally the piping hot gravy. I closed my eyes and took a bite.


My first thought was, “Meh”. After all that work, all the expectations, my poutine was a bit of a disappointment.ย  As you can see, the Asiago didn’t melt, which is what happens to curds upon contact with the hot gravy. Perhaps the cheese I used was too aged or too cold. But that stringy, cheesy goodness which is essential to the whole poutine experience was missing from my invention. But I haven’t given up hope. Now I have to try and find cheese curds here in Italy or book a flight back home asap!

Help a Canuck girl in need! What Italian cheese would be the best substitute for curds?

Entry filed under: Books, Canada, Food, Italy. Tags: , , , , , .

“Your country is a joke.” Tuscany or: how I learned to stop worrying and love nature

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sonia P  |  1 May 2009 at 12:26 am

    I don’t have a solution to your Cheese Curd problem.. sorry, but I think I will have to try the “Italian” Poutine… that sounds soo good.

    And it is! Funnily enough, I’ve never tried making Italian poutine in Italy.

  • 2. Susan  |  1 May 2009 at 12:27 am

    Why didn’t you use mozzarella? It would have given you the same stringy consistency?

    Hmm… maybe I’ll go get some poutine now… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Ok, rub it in, why don’t you ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    We only had the fresh, water-packed mozzarella and the consistency is slightly different. Remember that big mozzarella ball you ate near Paestum?!? I could try with what they call pizza mozzarella, which is sort of similar to Canadian mozza but not as sharp.

  • 3. Sierra  |  1 May 2009 at 2:03 am

    Do you think if I mailed you some cheese curds they’d still be edible?
    I have no wonderful ideas but I have made poutine with mozzarella and it wasn’t bad.

    Gosh! That’s nice of you but I’m not sure if they’d still be good. And knowing Poste Italiane, who knows when they’d get here ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • 4. Joanne at frutto della passione  |  1 May 2009 at 12:20 pm

    The next time you need a test subject I would be more than happy to volunteer!

    I’d bring it in to work but I’m afraid I’d lose a limb in the frenzy ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • 5. LuLu  |  1 May 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Hmm that’s a tough one….what about cacciacavallo? It’s semi-soft like a mozzarella ball (not the water packed one) and it doesn’t have a sharp taste. If you do figure out which one works best, do share! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for the suggestion LuLu! Will put cacciacavallo on my shopping list and see if it works.

  • 6. Lynn  |  1 May 2009 at 3:23 pm

    solution = fly back right away. miss you! would love another road trip to montreal.

    Miss you lots too, Lynn!! So good to hear from you! Remember when we went for our post-clubbing poutine on Ste. Catherine? Soooo good!! I’m pretty sure I’ll be in Canada in time to celebrate your next birthday. But if you want to deliver some poutine to me before, come visit us in Liguria this August ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 7. Val  |  1 May 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Hmm, it might be weird but since I love it so, I’ll recommend that you try some Pecorino Romano – I think you once said you didn’t actually like that cheese but maybe you haven’t tried it in its melted form – delicious. Unmelted – gross!

    I myself am about to melt some PR into my favourite pasta sauce (with basil, cherry tomatoes, red, yellow and orange peppers, giant chunks of garlic and a lotta heat and olive oil).

    Anyway, good luck!

    by the way, I subscribed to this blog via google like you told me but I never get anything in my mailbox and still have to check to see if you’ve written something new. what gives??

    That’s right. I’m not a big fan of Pecorino. Maybe because I have flashbacks from the time we went camping and L insisted on keeping pecorino in our tent. Oh the shtink!

    Are you checking on Google Reader? Because that’s where you see updates, not on gmail, unless you subscribed in some other way. Let me know.

  • 8. Kristen  |  1 May 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Unfortunately, there is no substitute for cheese curds. Cheese curds are fresh cheese, not aged a bit, so they have a different texture (squeaky) and taste. Pizza mozzarella is no substitute. You could give fresh mozza a try for texture but it doesn’t taste at all like cheddar curds.

    Instead, you can order cheese curds online (probably for a hefty premium to have it overnight shipped to italy!):

    …or make your own cheese curds (the more fun option):


    Thanks for the tips! I remember watching a mini-doc on how to make cheese on Sesame Street or Polka Dot Door. It always fascinated me. But, I don’t think I’ll be making it anytime soon. But I am tempted to order fresh curds ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • 9. Beatriz  |  7 May 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I am intrigued, but not tempted… it sounds a lot like a pizza that my son likes, which resembles a marguerita with some patatine thrown in for good measure… not likely to try that either! I guess one has to be Canadian.
    Regarding the geraniums, here is what I answered in my post:
    My son likes his shower hot, and he used to let the water run until the temperature was of his liking. Now, I leave a bucket in the shower and he saves all this water for me, then, the full bucket screams at me: USE ME! and I dutifully go around and water all my potted plants. It feels good!

    Oh, you’ve gotta try it to believe it!! It’s disgustingly good! The bucket in the shower idea is good but with all the shampoo and conditioner I use, I’m afraid of that going in the water and killing my plants. I’ll just reuse the extra water in the kettle for now.

  • 10. Deborah  |  8 May 2009 at 9:44 am

    How intriguing! In the Isle of Man, where my parents currently live, they have exactly the same “traditional” dish – chips, gravy and cheese. I think they use cheddar (you can get that here in the Auchan), but how about Raclette (also Auchan)? I wonder where the connection is between the IOM and Canada?

    Very interesting! Must check out the connection. And I’d love to try the Isle of Man version. I adore cheddar!!!

  • 11. kataroma  |  15 May 2009 at 10:38 am

    Hmmm…could you make your own cheese curds with milk and lemon juice or something (kind of like the way you make Indian matter paneer cheese)?

    Otherwise how about scamorza – it’s made to be melted. ๐Ÿ™‚

    That preschool thing is so bloody typical. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Hey, that’s a good idea! Would you happen to have a good recipe?

  • 12. Frances  |  19 May 2009 at 11:29 pm

    I would strain some riccotta over night in the fridge, then add a parmesan.

    Thanks for the helpful hint, Frances! How’s life in NYC?


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May 2009


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