The difference between the words Putin and poutine is probably enough to protect most American poutine-serving restaurants from facing complaints about a connection to Vladimir Putin. The same can’t be said for all of France’s poutine spots.
In French, Vladimir Putin’s surname is spelled Poutine—giving some people the mistaken impression that certain French eateries named for poutine, the food, are affiliated with Russia’s Ukraine-invading leader.
As Food & Wine reports, a chain of three poutine restaurants in France named Maison de la Poutine—or “House of Poutine”—has been receiving calls from outraged citizens who believe the restaurants are somehow in the employ of Russia. A worker at the Toulouse location told France Bleu that the calls come three or four times a day; co-founder Guillaume Natas told Le Parisien the two shops in Paris get as many as six an hour. Passersby have also taken to shouting insults from the street. To mitigate the backlash, Maison de la Poutine even released a statement on social media clarifying that its name has nothing whatsoever to do with Vladimir Putin, and that the chain supports Ukraine.
At Madame Poutine, another poutine spot in Toulouse, people are less angry and more confused. “Customers and passersby ask us almost every day why we are called [that],” an employee told France Bleu.
If the responses prove anything, it’s that not everyone in France knows what poutine is. The dish—a combination of cheese curds and fries covered in gravy—originated in Québec, Canada, in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
[h/t Food & Wine]