Ask anyone for a list of Canadian cuisine and poutine will surely land somewhere near the top.
Sure, the iconic dish -- that
unholy trinity of French fries, cheese curds and gravy -- might look like a heart attack served with a fork, but trace its origins and you'll find yourself in the town of Drummondville, le cœur du Québec, the "heart of Quebec."
Drummondville is home to Le Roy Jucep, one of as many as four locations claiming to be the birth place of poutine, according to Charles Lambert, owner of the restaurant.
"There are some people who think poutine is from Victoriaville or Warwick, which is nearby. We'll never know for sure but the word 'poutine' comes from Jucep for sure."
Depending on who you ask, the name came about sometime between 1964 and 1967. The restaurant's website says it originates from the word "putin" as a short form to order the dish. Others say it's a riff on "Ti-Pout," the nickname for a one of the restaurant's cooks who would make the dish. Either way, the name's stuck ever since, according to Lambert.
Le Roy Jucep even went as far as to trade mark themselves as the "inventor of poutine." The plaque from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office hangs nearby the restaurant's front doors, a source of pride for Lambert.
"This is an institution, the Jucep, it is known everywhere. If you google 'poutine,' you see the Jucep right away... it all started here."
Another source of pride for Lambert is how Le Jucep makes poutine. The restaurant goes through about 75 pounds of cheddar cheese curds from Fromagerie St-Guillaume, a dairy co-op 30 km east of the town, while the potatoes come from Patates Baril, a local farm.
As for the gravy, there isn't any. Instead, the restaurant uses a "magic sauce" for their poutine, a recipe Lambert keeps closely guarded after inheriting it from the previous owner's mother.
He makes the secret blend of spices and seasonings himself twice a year, once before the summer and once before the winter, storing it in translucent plastic drink cups filled to the brim with the mixture. One cup-sized container is enough to produce 45 gallons of the sauce.
The recipe hasn't changed much but the presentation did undergo one major change, much to the frustration of Le Roy Jucep's original owner, Jean Paul Roy.
At first, Roy would bury the cheese beneath the fries so the cheese would melt faster. As the poutine's popularity caught on, other restaurants were looking to make their poutine stand out, with most adding the curds to the top, then smothering the dish with gravy.
Soon guests began complaining to Roy that his poutine was skimping on the cheese since it was less visible in his presentation. This left Roy, well, a little cheesed. But rather than argue, he adopted the cheese on top method.
Today, you can still order poutine at Le Jucep with the cheese on top or at the bottom, but either way, Lambert says the dish is still Canadian.
"It's a cultural thing. Food brings people together and it's always fun to eat."
The Huffington Post Canada Travel made a stop at Le Roy Jucep to speak with Lambert and sample some historical poutine. Check out the video above to see how it all went down.
This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.
Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.