Popular snack targeted for resemblance to Putin

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French Canadian restaurants struggle to rename gravy-laden fries dish

French Canadian restaurants are rushing to rename the ultra-popular snack poutine, concerned that its name’s resemblance to that of Russian President Vladimir Putin will upset customers caught up in a jingoistic frenzy over the war in Ukraine.

Poutine, an artery-clogging delicacy consisting of potato fries topped with cheese curds, gravy, and mayonnaise, was invented in Quebec in the 1950s and has since become ubiquitous in the Canadian province. ‘Poutine’ also happens to be the way the Russian president’s name is transliterated into French from the Cyrillic alphabet. The confusion apparently has some restaurant patrons frothing mad.

La Maison de la Poutine, a restaurant with locations in France and Quebec, revealed in a tweet last week that it had received insults and threats from the public just for sharing the name of its signature dish with the Russian president.

The tweet patiently reminded customers that the restaurant had nothing to do with the Russian government or its leader, insisting its “most sincere support” was with “the Ukrainian people who are courageously fighting for their freedom.

Another Quebec restaurant took a more militant stance. Le Roy Jucep, which claims to be the birthplace of poutine, proactively removed the word from its menu and rechristened itself “the inventor of the fries-cheese-gravy.”

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Dear clients, Tonight the Jucep team decided to temporarily retire the word P**tine from its trademark in order to express, in its own way, its profound dismay over the situation in Ukraine,” the restaurant wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post, according to The Guardian.

The quibble over poutine recalls the campaign by some American politicians to rename French fries – another ultra-popular snack food which is essentially poutine without all the toppings – as ‘freedom fries’ in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks when the government of France refused to support then-President George W. Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And it’s far from the only blameless entity to be tarred with the jingoistic brush. Russian-bred cats as well as cat owners have been bizarrely banned by the international cat show authority FIFé. Russian teams are being removed from sports video games, which are themselves being yanked from Russia. Meanwhile, Western retailers from Apple to Canada Goose are refusing to sell their products in Russia in an act of collective reprisal for the conflict in Ukraine.

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