At tonight’s state dinner, where Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau will join the Obamas as special guests, there’s been big cross-border talk of the menu—one item especially. Here on a three-day visit, the Canadian couple will enjoy an unexpected treat of their homeland: poutine.
Given how stuffy state dinners can be in Washington, DC, poutine—typically french fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy—is, at first, a surprising addition to the formal menu. However, this version of poutine has been, as Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema puts it, “spiffed up and scaled back.” Instead of your hearty fast-food dive, this poutine is a tiny canapé of wafer fries, shavings of smoked Hudson River duck, and an elegant red-wine gravy.
White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford thought the move was cute. In fact, much of Comerford’s menu honors the north, such as the move of drizzling Yukon Gold potatoes with Yukon Jack whisky. But it’s a (symbolic) blend of American and Canadian digs, from Alaskan halibut casserole to to Nanaimo bars.
For a black-tie dinner, they sure know how to do it—at least when Trudeau’s in town. Dude should visit more often.