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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Canada’s favorite indulgence makes its way to the land of the panucho

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Poutine in Canada is truly ubiquitous and can be found easily from coast to coast. Photo: Alamy

As much as everyone in Mérida loves tacos, panuchos, and salbutes, the amount of international options for snacking and dining in the city continues to grow. 

Though for the past decade or so it has been possible to get poutine in Mérida until recently there had not been any shops or restaurants focusing on this Canadian delicacy.

Poutine is a dish from the French Canadian province of Quebec made of french fries and cheese curds topped with gravy. It is hard to overstate how big poutine is across Canada, with some going as far as calling it the country’s national dish. 

Food trucks at Le Grand Poutinefest in Montreal, Quebec. Photo: Courtesy

Located in Mérida’s north, Real Poutine Canadian is the creation of Nicole Hernández of London, Ontario, and her boyfriend Francisco Suárez Rodríguez. In their kitchen, the couple whips up a variety of options.

Being the proud Mexican-Canadian that I am, when the ad promising poutine appeared on my phone I knew right away what I would be having for dinner that night. The menu presented me with five options  — traditional poutine, a version topped with maple glazed bacon, a Yucatecan version with cochinita pibil, a Japanese-inspired variation with ramen but no gravy and the Italian Mama Mia. 

I ended up choosing two orders — you know, for research. These were the bacon glazed poutine, called the Northern Canadian, as well as the Guayabera or cochinita version. The delivery was surprisingly fast and before I knew it my poutine had arrived. 

When I got the poutine into the house, I noticed that it was still nice and warm, which is super important as there is nothing worse than cold gravy and soggy french fries. çphoto: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

As much as I love cochinita pibil I felt like the traditional Yucatecan pork dish was a little overpowering, though still very tasty. For me, the star of the show was the bacon-glazed poutine, as the bacon was extremely crispy and its sweetness really complemented the savory flavor of the gravy. 

Jarana and Northern Canadian poutines from The Real Poutine Canadian in Mérida. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Speaking of the gravy, when I called to place my order I made sure to ask how exactly The Real Poutine Canadian sources its gravy. I was reassured by Nicole that they extract the gravy from a roast which they prepare weekly. This was clearly true as it was quite delicious and obviously not made from some blasphemous powdered mix. 

Because cheese curds are so hard to come by in Yucatán, Nicole and Francisco use queso Oaxaca. Though at first, I was a little skeptical, I found that this salty cheese worked well as it melts quite nicely and has an appropriate texture. I was also informed that all of their meats and cheeses are sourced locally from Xmatkuil.

I thought the French fries could have been a little crispier, but this was far from a dealbreaker. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Nicole told me that for the time being, they do not have a physical restaurant and that for that reason they are only taking phone orders for delivery. But once the pandemic calms down a little more the couple hopes to open a full-service restaurant in the Altabrisa area.

The Real Poutine Canadian can be found on Facebook and takes orders via WhatsApp at 999-910-7669.

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