Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"It's a horseshoe town."

Back in 1993, yours truly went on a "French-immersion" trip to Montréal. For two weeks I "lived" in a hotel room in an English-speaking section of Mon-ree-al; and I spent most of my time drinking Québec's finest high-alcohol beers and chasing ... this is a family-friendly blog, so I'll not talk about what all I "chased."

During my two-week stint in Montréal, I was introduced to poutine. If you've never heard of poutine, here's what you should know: It's a specialty dish in Montréal, and it consists of thick-cut fried potatoes, brown gravy, and cheese curds. Oh, and a small order of 'em comes on a hubcap-sized plate.

I've eaten some very unhealthy things over the years ... but the large order of poutine I ate in Montréal has to be the most unhealthy, indeed.

I couldn't help but think about my experience(s) with poutine when I read this ...

Field House Pizza and Pub has written a dubious new chapter in the history of this city's signature dish. "We made something very unhealthy even unhealthier," co-owner Tom Hart says.

That's saying a mouthful, considering the dish he sought to outdo: the horseshoe sandwich, a platter-size, open-face Springfield original, consisting of bread, meat and a pile of French fries smothered in a thick cheese sauce.

Field House adds an extra layer of grease by stuffing the meat and fries into a tortilla, which stands in for the bread, and dunking the mass in a deep-fryer before ladling on the cheese sauce. The resulting colossus, called the "Shoe Burrito," weighs in at 2,700 calories—the equivalent of five Big Macs.

"It's a horseshoe town," says Rick Sennings, Mr. Hart's partner.

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Farmer said...

Greets to you, Joltin' Django!

I check in on your blog from time to time because I enjoy your très witty writing style and your passion for cuisine. Some "foodies" only want to write about the incredible meals they have in chef-fy places owned by names like Daniel Boulud, Patrick O'Connell, Michel Roux and Thomas Keller. It's fantastique to see how you give the same kind of love to a Hardee-burger.
Anyway, I adore la poutine! I remember my first encounter with Québec's "national dish" was at a Mike's Pizza in Montréal, coincidentally with my friend Mike from Montréal. (Well, Ville Saint-Laurent, back then.) Before ordering, he said, "I'll bet you've never had poutine!" (Puzzled look washed upon my face as my brain thought quickly, "Isn't that a bad word?")
When the nice lady arrived to the table with pad and pen, Mike began blabbering in some Québec patois with her. As I lived in Provence and picked up my parler down there, I find the Québecois accent mostly insufferable so I tuned them out.
Soon, the nice lady reappeared with this (as you put it so well) hubcap sized portion of gravy, cheesy, french fried mess. Heaven on a hubcap. I learned that the mark of a good poutine is that the inside of the fries must be soft, while the outside is crunchy and the cheese curds have to "squeak" as you chew them. This poutine met all three requirements and was, therefore, deemed as a très bonne poutine!
On to Horseshoes. YES. Another regional specialty which seems to be limited specifically to inside the city limits of Springfield, Illinois. A boring city, at best, and also the HQ of a former employer of mine. They have the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield, so you get the idea of what fun can be had there. I don't know of this Field House Pizza joint as I have only ever been horseshoed at Maldaner's. Since they've been cookin' in the shadows of the Illinois state capitol since the late 1800s, I trust they're horseshoeing properly. You are absolutely correct, the horseshoe experience is quite similar to the poutine except that with a horseshoe, you add meat, serve on two slices of plain white bread (side by side, the 'shoes!) and replace the squeaky cheese/gravy with a cheddar sauce. OK, so really, only the pile of gooey fries is the same... Good eats, all the same!