For all the poutine lovers out there, you may have heard of disco fries. A sordid attempt by Americans to claim they invented poutine, disco fries are an American creation that is “sort of” similar to poutine. But rest assured, poutine is way more delicious and was invented over twenty years before disco fries came onto the scene.
Before we move to the fundamental differences in ingredients between poutine and disco fries (also known as “Elvis fries”), let’s start with a brief history lesson.
Poutine as we Montrealers know it is a Quebec invention. Said to have originated in rural Quebec in the late 1950s, poutine has grown to be the unofficial national dish of Canada. Poutine is available at fast food restaurants across the country, including McDonald’s, and there are even entire restaurants dedicated to the dish (La Banquise, anyone?).
In contrast, disco fries have their roots in New Jersey. Dating back to the 1970s, disco fries become a popular food to eat at diners in New Jersey and New York after the disco had closed for the night. Similar to how poutine is considered one of Montreal’s best drunk foods, disco fries were once considered drunk food for those who had danced the night away, Saturday Night Fever-style.
Now let’s dive into the difference in recipes. While poutine recipes vary across Canada, a classic poutine is comprised of french fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Disco fries on the other hand are made using french fries, gravy, and mozzarella cheese. Although the fundamentals of the ingredients don’t appear to be different, after all they are both made of fries, gravy, and cheese, there are several subtle differences.
First off, disco fries are made using larger steak-cut fries. Poutine is made with regular french fries. Second, disco fries use a much thicker, darker gravy than poutine. And finally, the heart and soul of Quebec poutine is the cheese curds. They are a French-Canadian specialty. Disco fries don’t use cheese curds, they use mozzarella cheese, and sometimes even provolone or American cheese that is grated and melted on top of the dish. I’m sorry, but that is simply not poutine.
If you’re in New Jersey, be sure to try a plate of disco fries for yourself! And the next time an American tries to suggest that they are the ones who invented poutine, you can tell them that they are sorely mistaken.