With Canadian-born poutine being the current trendoid food in Chicago, I could hardly wait to dig into the stuff in Quebec City, where it has home-field advantage. I tried it at Chez Ashton—a greasy spoon if ever there was one—based on a recommendation from our waiter at Panache (which definitely lives up to its name). It was available in numerous versions, but I went with the original: limp fries, brown gravy, squeaky cheese curds. Much to my surprise, I liked it—a feeling not shared by my companions or even the majority of the Québécois I interviewed on the subject.

Poutine, however, would not bring me back to Canada. But, the Jean-Talon food market, Figaro’s croissants, Gaspe lobster, and Montreal-style bagels would!