BUFFALO, New York. Marci Goldberg is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who’s been registered as a Democrat since 1972, when she was a senior at college. “My values were formed in the sixties,” she says. “I lived through Nixon, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay in a country run by Donald Trump.”
And so Goldberg has formulated contingency plans in case Trump is elected President next Tuesday, making exploratory excursions into Canada with her children to acclimate them to the culture of our “Neighbor to the North” in preparation for four–or in a doomsday scenario–eight years of self-imposed exile.
But Jonathan and Emily, her fifth and seventh-grade son and daughter, respectively, have shown less enthusiasm that their parents for their potential new homeland, despite the fact that both voted for Hillary Clinton in their class elections. The reason? “That gross stuff mom made us eat,” Emily says, screwing up her face to express her disgust over poutine, a vile concoction made up of French fried potatoes, cheese curds and gravy that Goldberg insisted her children try in an attempted gesture of international understanding that went horribly awry.
Poutine technically has French origins, although it was exiled from la cuisine francais by chefs anxious to dissociate themselves from the high-starch combination of starch, starch and starch. “Just as the French were removed from Acadia in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic boring poem Evangeline, repeated attempts have been made to banish poutine to Buffalo, or even better Worcester, Massachusetts,” says food critic Emile Nostrand, author of “Fun With Canadian Cuisine!” “I suppose our only hope is the polar ice cap melts with global warming and the fries get soggy.”
But poutine is a protected species under the country’s Department of Canadian Heritage Act, or “S.C. 1995, c. 11” as it is known to its friends. “You might as well try and get rid of curling,” says Charles “Bud” Froelicht, as he ladles gravy over a heaping pile of fries and cheese curds at the Boom Boom Geoffrion Memorial Rink in Montreal. “We don’t let our youth hockey teams visit America on the off chance they’ll discover another civilization where poutine is not considered a delicacy.”
The dispute threatens to mar the Goldbergs’ four-day visit that begins today, with the kids sitting in silence in the back seat of the family car, while their mother blithely ignores the sullen mood into which her children have sunk.
“Why can’t we stay where we are and you just vote up here?” Jonathan says, eliciting a scowl from his mother.
“Jonathan, you should know that would be illegal,” she says as she clucks her tongue in disapproval. “We live in Buffalo–not Chicago.”