Who sells the most poutine in the United States? The Québécois owner of Dairy Belle Ice Cream in Dania Beach, outside of Fort Lauderdale, thinks he has the answer. "We go through 12,000 pounds of cheese curds every year. During [the high] season, we use 12 gallons of gravy every day," François Grenier tells South Florida.
Call it the snowbird effect. Poutine's popularity down south stems, in part, from the dish's cult-like surge across the United States but no doubt correlates with the hordes of retirees and tourists who descend on Florida from Quebec and the rest of Canada every winter. There are some native impediments, however. Another South Florida poutine-maker says "the biggest problem is finding the right gravy." Michelle Grenier, no relation to François, uses a gravy made by Quebec rotisserie chicken chain St-Hubert.
Customers of Dairy Belle Ice Cream may unknowingly be connected to poutine's origin story. Until 1988, François Grenier's family ran a cheese factory in Victoriaville, Quebec and "[f]amily lore has it that it [sic] Grenier cheese curds were used when poutine was invented. A restaurant customer was eating french fries with gravy. He was also eating cheese curds. He put them together and poutine was born."