What could be better than a steaming bowl of poutine?

How about poutine made with whiskey and bacon?

It’s called The Drunken Pig Poutine – a brand new recipe they whipped up at west Ottawa eatery, The Foolish Chicken. “Quite a few of our specials include either bacon or whiskey,” says chef Stephen Parks. “So I figured I’m going to put two of my favourite ingredients in something I really enjoy.”

Parks isn’t the only one tinkering with the traditional French Canadian dish of fries, cheese curds and gravy. Restaurants from Quebec City to Toronto, including several in Ottawa/Gatineau, are taking part in La Poutine Week - a friendly contest encouraging participants to create a new poutine dish. Customers can vote for their favourites online.

So just how does one make poutine new again?

Restaurants across the Capital Region have come up with some interesting ideas. There’s Shawarma Poutine, La Ptit Grec Poutine, Yucca Poutine, and Pepper Jack Cheese Steak Poutine.

There’s even Sour Cherry Ducktine. “We did a duck gravy with sour cherries to compliment the duck. And then duck confit on top,” explains Blair Williams of Hintonburger.

But that’s nothing compared to what you can find in Montreal, where La Poutine Week first began. You can sample oxtail, lobster, and seal poutine among others. One restaurant even decided to make fries out of doughnuts.

It makes it hard to believe there was a time when some people thought mixing fries, cheese curds, and gravy was the unusual part.

La Poutine Week continues to Feb. 7th.