Vive le Poutine, Eh?

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, June 1996

Vive le Poutine, Eh?
By Mike Steere

There's more pulling at canadian harmony than francophone Quebec's never-ending struggle for autonomy. Mistake a British Columbian for an Ontarian, and a quick "sorry" will be in order. Ron James, Nova Scotia-born comic and alumnus of the famous Second City improvisation group, expounds on the signature quirks of some of Canada's more popular destinations, plus some hints for blending in while traveling up north:

Newfoundland: If cod tongues and cheeks are too pricey nowadays because of the government ban on cod fishing instituted in July 1992, console yourself with bags of fried pork scrunchions and a bottle of Screech, the aptly named local rum. Express fatalistic acceptance of life's vicissitudes by saying, "What odds, me son? What odds?"

Quebec: Binge on poutine, a uniquely French-Canadian junk feast of fries slathered with gravy and melted cheese. Wash it down with a $35 bottle of burgundy. Make Ontarians blanch with Gaulish joie de vivre.

Ontario: Live in the city, then drive up north to celebrate your position on the food chain by frying fresh-caught pickerel while wearing a full-body bug suit. Perfect a McKenzie Brothers "eh?" and use it when you want to sound like a homeboy.

Saskatchewan: Pronounce words slowly, as if speaking each syllable demands a deliberate decision. Put even longer pauses for thought between whole words.

Alberta: Miss a finger, or a few, from an oil rig accident in late seventies boom, thereby proving you're not a recent arrival. Grumble about those who are. Take fashion cues from Garth Brooks.

British Columbia: Spend recently acquired real estate wealth on Armani suits, but show your enviro chic with peeling nose from weekend climb of 12,972-foot Mount Robson. Balance the cellular phone with shamanic amulet and fret about other provinces' hideously unhealthy diets (see Quebec, above).

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