So you found my easter egg... which probably means you have too much spare time... anyway, inspired by a trip to Montreal, here's one review I didn't put in my toy reviews page...
Function: Hardening of artery walls
Alternate Mode: Fries, Cheese and Gravy
Poutine is a mixture of fries - or hot chips if you prefer - cheese and gravy. Basically, get all three and mix them together. Sounds odd, and to be honest, it is. But then they do lots of odd things in Quebec - where you can actually find "Le Body Shop", and there's a separatist movement within a separatist movement (the Inuit north doesn't want to be part of an independent Quebec).
Anyway, so you're probably wondering how they came to create such a strange fast food. Don't worry, so am I. They'll eat it by itself, as a meal, too. But don't ponder too long, it's actually pretty nice. It doesn't really taste like any other variety of cheese fries I've tasted, since the cheese tends to melt into the gravy rather than onto the chips themselves. But it's a cuisine worth trying.
Unlike most of the ways there are to eat chips, this is one time where using a fork is recommended - since everything is mixed together, there's melted cheese and gravy everywhere. You'll find your poutine comes in a cup or bowl rather than a plate, because it's just too messy otherwise. Still, I'd rather go to La Belle Province and fill up on a cup of tasty fries with a fork than go to Taco Bell and not have my hunger sated by a miniature, tasteless taco laden with that iridescent orange stuff Americans call cheese.
For the record, La Belle Province is a Quebec fast food chain. They sell stuff like hot dogs, hamburgers and .. well .. poutine. The Hamburgers are nice, too. The real sort, not the overprocessed meat you'll find at McDonalds or the microscopic ones they'll try sell you at KFC. You can buy poutine at places other than La Belle Province, in fact I found a pizza place that sells it, and McDonalds even sells it, although with rather artificial looking gravy and those skinny fries, it doesn't work that well.
And then there's my attempt to capture the essence of Quebec in my kitchen, using local hot chips, local cheese and gravy. The trick is the cheese. The cheese used in Quebec is basically small chunks of curd. While tasty cheese is chose enough in flavour, I discovered that shredded tasty doesn't work - the cheese is just too fine. So I tried cubing a block of cheese, and almost got it right - but this time I'd baked the chips, which didn't work very well either. I've yet to try with cubed cheese and fried chip, but I have a feeling it's going to be pretty close to Quebec's authentic off-the-wall fast food.
A strange idea, but after having it a couple of times, I realised it's a good one. Americans invented fast food, but it seems the Canadians have outdone them - at least in the cheese & chips stakes. The exact cheese used isn't available locally, and with Australian importing laws I don't dare get a cousin to send it to me. So I can sort of enjoy it here, and I definitely recommend trying it to anyone brave enough to venture into the linguistically charged land that is Quebec. The land that passed a law that everything must be in French, despite a sizeable English speaking population, in a primarily English speaking nation. The land that actually thinks leaving Canada because of linguistic differences and then joining the USA makes sense (I kid you not, some separatists actually want to be part of the USA).
So, if you do brave the strange politics of Quebec (which is still a nice province, despite the nuts who want it to be a US state), I'd recommend braving a cup of chips, cheese and gravy. 8/10