Poutine in Germany!
Leave it to Berlin to have a poutine shop!
Poutine is a Canadian dish that originated in Quebec in the 1950s. It is legendary across the country and its traditional messy dish includes only 3 ingredients:
- French fries
- Cheese Curds
The cheese curds sprinkled on french fries and warm gravy poured on top creates a kind of melted cheese mixture with warm gravy and fries. It really is tasty!
Cheese curds are little pieces of white cheese. During the cheese making process, cheese curds are what happens before a cheese like cheddar is formed into blocks or wheels and aged. When I was in Quebec, I even heard cheese curds referred to as “squeaky” cheese because of the squeaky texture between your teeth when eating them. I know that probably doesn’t sound the most appetizing if you’re just reading about it and haven’t actually eaten cheese curds before. Trust, they’re delicious!
The first time I had an authentic poutine happened during my first trip to Quebec in 2008 where I went to a country-cottage with some local Quebecois friends and they took me to a poutine vendor in the cottage-area along the Batiscan River. It was amazing, and it was great to have local cheese curds and a homemade gravy with fresh-cut fries. I am sure I had eaten poutine before that trip, but this is my first memory of eating it – and I will cherish it.
If you’re a fellow Canadian reading this post, you’re probably laughing at the fact that I’m writing an entire blog post solely on poutine, because it’s such a common food that is easily available to eat. (Always be sure to get cheese curds in your poutine, if it’s shredded cheese, it’s not real!). I LOVE to eat CHEESE, so writing about poutine just adds to that. I’m sure I’ll write more experiences with food and cheese – I’m even seeing if I can go to a World Cheese Competition to try fancy-ass cheeses! Stay tuned for that one.
But for now, let’s get to the good stuff: folks living in Germany – there is poutine in Berlin! But of course, it’s Berlin, and that city has everything! I’m really happy to be under 200KM away, making it easy to visit now and then.
The Poutine Kitchen had its grand opening this past April 2018. I was visiting a friend in Berlin for the weekend, we met in Canada when she was on a study exchange at the same Uni as me in 2010-2011. For her, this was an epic experience for us to share: she hasn’t eaten poutine since that time in Canada! For me, as much as I love poutine, it was a little less exciting as I had some in Toronto in September 2017. With that said, we were still amped to go for this speciality food item in Berlin and I love kitschy things, so this fit right in!
We walked into the Arminiusmarkthalle, one of the MANY indoor markets around Berlin, while on our quest for some real cheese curds, gravy, and fries. This market is located in Wedding, one of Berlin’s neighbourhoods and has been “up-and-coming” for at least the last 5 years; inside are a number of other small restaurant and food places, but we knew we were going for poutine.
Immediately giggling when we saw The Poutine Kitchen, we were giddy and our stomachs were rumbling. It is located in one of the corners of the market, has a VW camper van, nicknamed “shaggin’ wagon”, decorated in white and red (the Canadian national flag colours). Their menu includes variations of poutine including traditional to having an egg topped on it! They also have a supplier for pogo sticks – hello my childhood in beach towns and city fairs! Deep fried curds, which are a real treat for anyone who’s had ‘em, and if not, GO EAT IT! It’s worth the heartattack that you might incur afterwards (joking, but it is heavy, so sharing the deep fried curds is a smart way to go). They stock Canadian beers, including (but will rotate) Moosehead and Steamworks. I drank a local Berlin craft beer and ate the Quebec classic poutine with bacon added (I also love to eat bacon, which can be difficult to find real bacon and not just ham in Germany). My friend had the spicy chicken poutine with a Moosehead. Our decisions were perfect for how we were feeling for a late lunch.
After mentioning that I’m from Canada, the owner and founder, Holger Boeckner, generously came over to visit our table while we were enjoying this wonderful food and a refreshing beer. Boeckner told us of his experiences with poutine in Canada from 2007 onwards. He knew there would be a market for poutine-lovers in Berlin which is part of why he opened it! He plans to offer bottle sales of rotating craft beer from Canada, as well as authentic Quebecois maple syrup, and you can buy the cheese curds. Boeckner told us that finding a producer of real cheese curds in Germany was very important for the authentic experience of it, and the curds come out of a dairy farm in Brandenburg.
Alas, my homage to poutine must end. I love that you can find so many niche foods, items, music, and everything in Berlin. I think The Poutine Kitchen will do well, and I wish them all the best. Although I have not yet felt any homesickness for life in Canada, it was nice to share a piece of it with an old friend where we began our friendship in Canada.
Memorable stories of poutine eating? I find sharing stories about food and sharing cultural foods with one another is a great exchange between people.