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Celebrate la fête nationale de l’Acadie!

Let’s celebrate! This week we’re marking la fête nationale de l’Acadie.

Food finds us everywhere: in our homes, our memories, and as a staple in our cultural expression. Tyler LeBlanc recently discovered his Acadian ancestry while preparing petit déjeuner for the cyclists of a Nova Scotia bike tour and worrying whether the brie in his bag was getting too hot.

Tyler has since delved into his mysterious Acadian past and, in his book Acadian Driftwood, tells the stories of his ancestors who suffered through the brutality of the Great Expulsion.

Although Tyler’s great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and his family would have dined mostly on salt meat and curdled milk stew — far less for those boarded onto ships and expelled to unfriendly countries — they managed to use their hardship to develop unique recipes which are still in use today. Similar to bannock, a fried bread made by Indigenous peoples, or aardappelen met kaas, cheesy mashed potatoes made by the Dutch, dishes that were once made in times of great necessity have since become a comfort and a celebration of one’s culture and resilience.  

With la fête nationale de l’Acadie on August 15th, we want to celebrate a unique Acadian dish born out of necessity — poutine râpée. Though you may be familiar with the contemporary version of poutine, poutine râpée requires more time and energy than tossing cheese curds and gravy over fries. You’ll still find this dish served in many homes throughout Acadie. Here’s the traditional recipe from Marielle Cormier-Boudreau and Melvin Gallant’s bestselling cookbook, A Taste of Acadie.

Poutines Rapées  

½         pound fatty salt pork                          250 g

10        potatoes, finely grated                       10

4          potatoes, cooked and mashed          4         

            Salt and pepper

Soak the pork overnight in cold water to remove the salt and cut it into cubes.
Extract the water from the grated potatoes by putting them in a cotton bag and squeezing vigorously.
Mix the mashed potatoes with the grated potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Roll the potato mixture into balls resembling small snowballs. Make a hole in the centre of the potato ball and add 1 Tbsp/15 mL of the salt pork. Close the hole and roll the poutines in flour.
Gently drop the poutines, 2 or 3 at a time, into a large pot of boiling salted water, ensuring that the water is kept at a rolling boil. Simmer the poutines for 2-3 hours.
Eat the poutines hot with butter, salt and pepper, or as a dessert with sugar and molasses.
Makes 6 poutines.

For anyone who has ever made poutine râpée (or had a chance to try it), you’re probably familiar with its greyish colour and glutinous texture. While it’s not the most beautiful repast, the taste more than makes up for its appearance. Try it on August 15th as you celebrate la fête nationale — no matter where you are.

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