Diner drops ‘poutine’ to protest Putin
A Quebec restaurant that claims to have invented poutine has dropped the name of its most famous dish from some of its branding because the meal shares a name with Russia’s president.
Drummondville, Que., diner Le Roy Jucep announced last week on Facebook it was temporarily removing the word “poutine” from some of its online branding to express its “deep dismay” over the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Therefore, as of now, we’re the inventor of the fries cheese gravy,” the post read.
In French, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s last name is written and pronounced “Poutine” — the same as Quebec’s signature dish.
The restaurant has since deleted the post, but its Facebook page still describes it as the inventor of the “fries cheese gravy” rather than poutine.
While the move has drawn both positive and negative reactions online, the diner shared a video on its Facebook page of a woman in Ukraine who appeared on Radio-Canada and thanked the restaurant for the gesture.
“If we were able to make someone smile over there, it’s already a win!” the restaurant wrote on Facebook.
“We are with you with all our hearts.”
The restaurant did not respond for a request for comment on Wednesday.
Poutine was invented in Quebec in the 1950s or 1960s, and the founder of Le Roy Jucep is among those who claim to have created the fast-food staple.
Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University’s agri-food analytics lab and author of the book “Poutine Nation,” said that while the word “poutine” originated in Warwick, Que., in the late 1950s, it was Jean-Paul Roy of Le Roy Jucep who first mixed gravy into the dish.
In an interview on Wednesday, Charlebois said it’s unclear how poutine first got its name. One legend suggests it was a trucker who asked the restaurant to “put in” the cheese with the fries, he said, while another suggests it’s a take on “pudding” because it is a mixture of ingredients. Other dishes in France and Acadia also bear the name, he added.
While poutine’s name clearly has nothing to do with Vladimir Putin, Charlebois said they both became internationally famous at around the same time, and he thinks the Russian president may have at least helped some people learn how to say the dish’s name properly.
“The pronunciation of the dish itself, I think, got easier when President Putin landed on the world stage,” he said. “I actually do think he might have helped people, because in French it’s the same spelling, the same pronunciation.”