It's been more than ten years.
TEN FUCKING YEARS.
I've been looking all over, with absolutely no luck at all... and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I find it.
Of course, it's at the Wegman's -- which is the biggest goddamn market I've ever seen -- and it's right there in a plain little package sitting in the cooler.
The label says, "Fresh Cheddar Cheese."
Somehow, in my mind, I never made the connection between the fresh mozzarella my wife likes and the cheese curds I've been craving forever. Well, not forever, but ever since my first trip to Montreal in 1996.
So, yeah. Fresh Cheddar Cheese. I can see beyond the label into the clear plastic tub. I can see the crumbled cheese curds and my heart skips a beat in anticipation of the cholesterol flood it will soon be experiencing.
Because, you see, Cheese Curds were not on the grocery list. But now that I've found them I have to add Heinz Chicken Gravy and a bag of crinkle cut french fries to the list.
In January of 1996, I had my first poutine.
Poutine is a Quebec concoction of the ingredients I listed above -- you get a nice big batch of crispy french fries and some piping hot chicken gravy and a whole GREAT BIG FUCKING PILE of fresh cheese curds and you mix the whole thing up in a bowl and you eat it with a fork.
Poutine may just be the 8th wonder of the world. If you haven't had it, I'm sure it sounds disgusting. It sounded disgusting to me the first time it was described. But then I put a forkful into my face and I was never to be the same person.
Poutine is so important that you can even get it at motherfucking McDonald's (known as "McDo" up north) and Burger King in Montreal. Of course, it's better if you get it from some greasy open-all-night diner in a styrofoam take-out bowl, but in a pinch you'll be pretty damn happy if you have to eat the one from McDo.
I was hampered by my lack of knowledge - I didn't know what the fuck kind of cheese it was in the Poutine. It's like a gooey rubber and doesn't resemble regular cheddar at all. But the stuff in the tub from Wegman's is it.
And now it's in my belly.
Half a bag of Ore-Ida Crinkles.
Half a (big) jar of Heinz Chicken Gravy.
Half a tub of Cheese Curds.
Mix. Eat with fork. Sit back and smile.
Holy shit, am I happy.