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2 Catt. 4: In re Eat Wonky

2011 October 24

JEREMY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. CATTLEYA, J., delivered a dissenting opinion.

Many years ago now, a decade or more, on a cold, misty day, in a squat diner on a forlorn stretch of highway in Clare, Nova Scotia, in the heart of Acadia, I first tasted poutine, that iconically French Canadian conglomeration of crisp fries, fresh curds, and savory gravy. The concoction passed my lips, caressed my palate, and I stopped, mid-chew, fork suspended in the space between the plate and my mouth. “An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory . . . I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal.” Marcel Proust, 1 Remembrance of Things Past 48 (C.K. Scott Moncrieff & Terence Kilmartin trans. 1913). Though entirely new to me, there was something immediately familiar about poutine. Universal comfort food, I suppose.

Clare, Nova Scotia

Clare, Nova Scotia

Several years would pass before I once more crossed into Francophone Canada and poutine again graced my palate, this time on a crisp mid-May day at a gray stone structure on the Rue de la Commune along the Saint Lawrence in Vieux-Montréal. Again, the same sensation I had felt in Clare rumbled through my bones like some icy breeze off the Bay of Fundy. With each crunch of fry, with each cognizance of duck fat, with each squeak of cheese curd, and with each taste of beef gravy, the vicissitudes of life once more became indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory. At that particular moment, a moment of seemingly infinite proportions, my world was little more than a basket of moistened fries, a plastic fork, a picnic table, a park, and a crisp mid-May day along the Saint Lawrence in Vieux-Montréal.



O, gentle reader, excuse, if you will, my descent into gonzo judging. As I have said before, we should strive for something higher, for objectivity, in the pages of these reports. See In re DC Empanadas, 1 Catt. 3 (2011). But even the least partial of judges must at times, of necessity, take judicial notice of those things and happy incidents that comprise the substance of his memory.

We granted cartiorari in this case to review Eat Wonky (“EW”), a “mobile gastronomic enterprise” purveying, inter alia, Wonky Fries™, also smartly denominated “ ‘Poutine’! ” [sic] to appeal to those of us who have trekked to the Great White North and fallen under her spell. (The exclamation point, often a gauche and maladroit addition, is here warranted. Poutine!, indeed!) Finally finding a dish called “Poutine!” south of the Canadian Shield, we could not help but grant cartiorari. (We also granted cartiorari to review EW’s whoopie pie, which analysis I leave for my sister to review in a companion case.)

EW describes its Wonky Fries™ ($5.50) as “natural cut French fries [cooked in peanut oil] topped with squeaky cheese and gravy.” (I would have preferred duck fat to peanut oil, see Metro Halal Food v. Tasty Kabob, 1 Catt. 2 (2011) (Jeremy, C.J., concurring), but that can be forgiven. My duck truck awaits its eager entrepreneur.) In such a case, it is perhaps best to address each component individually before proceeding to assess the whole. Cf. In re TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4 (2011).

Wonky Fries (Poutine)

Wonky Fries (Poutine)

French Fries. Excellent. The fries were fresh and hot and crisp with a pillowy center. They were not overly greasy, like the fries of other hyped merchants. They held up admirably against the curds and the gravy, which is a feat of gastronomic engineering in its own right.

Cheese Curds (“Squeaky Cheese”). Mediocre. Fresh cheese curds squeak against one’s teeth upon biting into them, producing a sound akin to “balloons trying to neck.” Louisa Kamps, Cheese Curds, N.Y. TIMES MAG., Oct. 17, 2004. While tasty nonetheless, EW’s squeaky cheese lacked squeak. The balloons must have gone their separate ways. A non-squeaky curd is, to borrow from the world of kennel clubs, a major fault. I have come to demand squeak from my cheese curds.

Gravy. Good. EW makes a respectable brown gravy. Beefy, if I’m not mistaken, with the possible addition of an herb or two. While thinner than I might have expected from a dish born of diners, it passes sufficient muster for my taste.

The verdict: Decent. By no means a lunch unto itself, EW’s Wonky Fries™ make a fair snack or a hefty accoutrement. While tasty, this is no Québecois or Acadian poutine. Evangéline would only faintly recognize it. Jean Poutine may question the association. But it is passable and even enjoyable. Like so many memories cultivated in one’s travels, it may not be past poutines with which I am comparing EW’s Wonky Fries™, but rather the experiences surrounding them. No food truck, not even the best of them, can compare with that.

AFFIRMED in part and REMANDED in part to Eat Wonky for revision.

CATTLEYA, J., dissenting.

I agree with the Cart’s analysis of EW’s Wonky Fries™, but because the Cart reaches the wrong result, I dissent. True, the fries were “hot and crisp.” But the cheese curds “lacked squeak” and the gravy was “thin[].” How the Cart manages to affirm EW’s squeakless curds and thin gravy shows a logical jump that sound reasoning simply cannot support. This was my first taste of poutine, and I have no wish to try EW’s version again. I am grateful that I don’t have the memories of exquisite poutines past to impair my taste buds and cloud my judgment. I would remand the dish to EW for revision. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.

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