Poutine, Please - The Jean Talon Market, Montreal

Poutine

Photo by Brad Haynes — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Less expensive and more authentic than the Atwater Market, the year-round Jean Talon Market offers the very best — and most surprising — edibles in Quebec. From the city’s finest chocolate to the reputable organic meats of the Boucherie Fermes Saint Vincent, savvy tourists mix with lucky regulars at the liveliest farmer’s market in Montreal.

Opened to the public by then-Mayor Camillien Houde in 1933, the market was installed on the hallowed grounds of the Shamrock Lacrosse Club. Passionate, professional and downright courageous, walls are constructed around the market to protect its stalwartly vendors from the relentless Canadian winters. In the summertime, Jean Talon hosts more than 300 vendors from all over the country and the surrounding area is closed to vehicles.

From ice cream to barbecue, onion bhaji to calamari and chips, whether you are coming to look or coming to buy, come hungry. In addition to Quebecois specialties such as Tourtiere (meat pie) or cretons (a pâte of ground pork, lard and onions), visitors can sample the piece de resistance of the proletariat — poutine. A massive dose of French fries, gravy, melted cheese and salt, poutine is the saving grace of many a hungry (and hungover) student. Tourists can face-off with this national specialty in diners, pubs and restaurants throughout the region. A veritable tabula rasa of carbohydrates, the poutine can be customized depending on the nature of the establishment it’s found in. Poutine with fresh tomato sauce, poutine topped with foie gras, poutine with a superfluous dose of chili con carne…

If you have an ounce of mobility left after this dish, walk (don’t run, it’s bad for the digestion) to the Festival du Bois, a quintessential celebration of francophone culture and music. Can’t get enough of Canada? Ruin your diet with this simple poutine recipe and check out more festivals in Québec.

- Courtney Maum

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