Day 123 Montreal, Quebec: Steame ou Toaste - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

August 31, 2011

Day 123 Montreal, Quebec: Steame ou Toaste

While Montreal may be the home of some pretty haute "haute cuisine", it also prepares stuff at the very bottom of the feeding trough. Perversely, even at that there is a kind of pride in the slop that you find at the low end of the spectrum. The steamed hot dog, for example, has long been a Montreal favourite. But even it's name is low end, for it is referred to as a Steamé. Now there is no such word in French, the term is an Anglicization which enters French as slang, just as "char" means "car".

I ran afoul of the language and the culture as I entered Lafleur, one of two major chains purveying this stuff (the other is La Belle Province). The menu listed Steamé and below it Toasté. In my experience (in the rest of the world beyond Quebec) a hotdog is boiled or steamed and is served in a bun that could be plain or toasted. So I asked for a Steamé - Toasté. This generated an immediate error message from the man behind the counter. If we had been in New York his answer would be translated "What's it gonna be, buster, steamed or toasted, and quit dicking with me!". I meekly backtracked to the known Steamé territory. Now (until I ask my brother, who lives here) I will have no idea how you actually "toast" a hot dog.

Steamé plus suitably greasy fries
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One step lower on the culinary ladder is the Poutine. Poutine originated in Quebec and has now spread, I think, to some national or even American fast food chains. Here it is standard (flavourful but highly greasy) french fries, drowned in (as far as Lafleur is concerned) gravy mix and studded with cheese curds. Remember what I said yesterday about the health benefits of eating in this city - forget it!

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On the way back from Lafleur I stopped for another peak at the Vietnamese temple across the street. It's courtyard is distinguished by a giant white statue, and by a large group of smaller ones, all cast from a pure white material. I don't know what these statues signify, but they are graphic evidence of the exotic cultures imported here from other parts of the former French empire. Interesting!

A giant statue in the courtyard of the Vietnamese temple across the street
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About one third of the smaller statues in the courtyard
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