A Quebec restaurant removes poutine from the menu – the word, not the dish – to denounce Poutine

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In 2003 there was Freedom Fries. In 2022, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at least one Quebec restaurant has found its own way to denounce Vladimir Putin – although removing his name from the local lexicon is much harder than it looks. it seems.

The restaurant Le Roy Jucep, in the small town of Drummondville, announced on Facebook on Friday that it calls itself “the inventor of the fries-cheese-sauce”.

The dish is, of course, poutine, Quebec’s most famous comfort food, and Le Roy Jucep claims to have invented it in the 1950s. The place is famous enough that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited there. even arrested once during the national holiday of Quebec and filmed a video paying homage to poutine.

But this word is also the French translation of the name Poutine. Invariably, in France, Quebec and other French-speaking countries, the Russian president is written “Vladimir Poutine”.

“Dear customers,” the restaurant wrote in an online post on Friday. “Tonight, the Jucep team has decided to temporarily remove the word P***tine from its brand in order to express, in its own way, its deep dismay at the situation in Ukraine.”

He later took down the post, telling media he had received hate phone calls and was nervous, but his Facebook page describe it again as “the inventor of fries-cheese-sauce”.

On Saturday, restaurant staff wrote an update, saying they had learned of a thank you message given by a Ukrainian man, speaking on Radio-Canada television, who had learned of the gesture.

“Very touching to learn that our little message of support has been sent from Drummondville to Ukraine!” writes the restaurant.

“If we could make someone smile there, that’s already a victory! We are with you from the bottom of our hearts.

The restaurant owner could not be reached for how long he planned to avoid saying the name of his signature dish or what kind of threats he had received in response.

The odd double meaning of the word goes back a long way, and it has its roots in avoiding even clumsier word choice.

If it says “Poutine” in French, Poutine’s name is pronounced in a way that sounds very close to “putain”, which is one of the most common French swear words.

So the French speakers, at some point around Putin’s rise to power in 1999, decided to be diplomatic instead. People “adopted bogus phonetics, unanimously choosing to mispronounce the name of the president of Russia,” according to the New York Times language columnist. written in 2005.

“Poutine” isn’t otherwise a word in French, other than referring to high-fat Quebec food. Historians of the specialty, including those of Roy Jucep, seem to agree that it comes from the English word “pudding”, with Quebecers or Acadians using this word to describe any dish that was a hot hodgepodge, but pronouncing it more like “poudine”. .”

At some point, probably at Roy Jucep but maybe at a few other suitors for the food’s inventor, the word came to mean exclusively French fries with cheese curds and gravy.

The contrast between the serious Russian president and his low-end culinary namesake in Quebec has not been lost over the past two decades, inspiring more than a few puns and jokes, usually at Putin’s expense.

In 2018, a young Russian couple started a food truck in their own country serving poutine, calling it the “Poutinerie”. A few people objected to them “making fun of the president,” one of the founders told The Canadian Press, but that was “only a minority.”

In Montreal, there was even an entire restaurant downtown for a few years called “Vladimir Poutine”, which was themed around dictators and autocrats – there was also a “Trump burger” as well as a signature poutine dish , according to Vice Newswhich described the restaurant’s “fake Russian red badges”.

Now that it’s clear just how much of a force for destruction the autocratic president has become, the joke is no longer funny for most Quebecers.

“Nice gesture of support,” a man wrote on Facebook to Le Roy Jucep, part of a stream of hundreds of people commenting to thank the restaurant.

“To all those who said: it does not matter, empathy and solidarity are not nothing,” added a woman.

One man agreed, but saw things slightly differently, he said.

“Nice initiative, but as far as I’m concerned,” he wrote, “it’s more like something over there in Russia that doesn’t deserve to have that name.”

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