Friday, January 23, 2015

"Steamy Week" ......It used to be all

Montreal Diary: the steamé gets its due


Finally, the steamé gets its due.

Poutine got its own week, so did the burger. And now that unsung Montreal fast-food icon, the steamed hot dog, will have its chance to shine. The first-ever Steamy Week got underway Jan. 23 and continues until Jan. 29.
The hot dog itself might be an American invention. But lay a Lester’s weiner in a flat white bun steamed to moist and fluffy perfection, squirt on a squiggly line of mustard and a sprinkling of chopped onion and/or cabbage and suddenly you’re talking about a local culinary icon: a Montreal hot dog, also known as a steamy or a steamé, or in colloquial Québécois French, a roteux (which derives from the verb roter: to burp.)
“Montrealers love steamés. They are a humble food that brings us together. Just saying the word brings to mind the experience of biting into something warm, hot and delicious,” says Cléa Desjardins, one of Steamy Week’s co-founders.
Desjardins, a senior communications adviser at Concordia University, and two web-designer friends, Josh Davidson and Andy Murdoch, had the idea of paying tribute to the steamy over beers before the holidays. They created the hashtags #SemaineSteamé and #SteamyWeek on Twitter and created the steamyweek.cawebsite where they list their favourite spots around town.
Participants are encouraged to head over to the more than 40 suggested locations and taste, photograph, then post pictures and share reviews. Steamé hot spots are plotted on a map, and users are invited to add their favourites.
Desjardins says Steamy Week doesn’t have corporate sponsors, and there won’t be any specialty hotdogs to try. Theirs is more of a grassroots movement meant as a “mid-winter distraction” and a chance for lovers of salty dogs on steamed white buns to come together.
The steamé, they sayhas lived too long in the shadow of that other Québécois fast-food icon, poutine, which has become an international phenomenon. There are now poutine restaurants in major cities across North America, and a dish of gravy-soaked french fries and curd cheese is the first thing tourists look for when they arrive in Montreal. Chefs have even elevated poutine to gastronomic status by adding foie gras, wild mushrooms, or red-wine sauce.
By contrast, the lowly steamé has remained a local dish, a niche snack impervious to so-called improvements.

Québécois classic: Steamed hotdog with mustard, relish and onions at Paul Patates in the Point-St-Charles.
Québécois classic: Steamed hotdog with mustard, relish and onions at Paul Patates in the Point-St-Charles.
John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette

“Ask for a steamy in Vancouver or pretty much anywhere else, and they won’t know what you are talking about,” said Desjardins. “But here the steamé is a humble food that brings people together. It crosses age and social boundaries. It’s good any time of day, whether for lunch or for a 3 a.m. drunk meal. And anyone can afford it.
At Chez Luma on Wellington St. in Verdun, for instance, Desjardins can pop in any day between noon and 1 p.m. and grab two steamies for a dollar.
All the major steamé players in town appear on the Steamy Week map. There’s Montreal Pool Room on The Main, and Lafleur and La Belle Province with their franchises all over town, but also Orange Julep on Decarie Blvd., Paul Patates in Point-St-Charles and Green Spot in St-Henri.
Steamy Week’s organizers insist they are not trying to muscle in on that other Montreal fast-food lovefest, La Poutine Week, which takes place from Feb 1 through 7.
“Just think of us as an appetizer to whet your appetite for the poutine to come, ” Desjardins quips. “Besides, it’s freezing out and we all need a little steaminess in our lives to get us over the first hump of winter and into February.”


BobB said...

Ahh!!! Nothing like a steamy. I live in Toronto now. I worked in Oshawa just east of Toronto a few years ago. There was a chap who had a little steamy place near the office I worked in. I was there a few days every week. It was the real deal. Just a little place with about 4 stools to sit at. But people came from all over to have them. Many ex Montrealers like me. Fantastic.

Les_F said...

Hi Bob, rare to find places outside of Montreal.They do pop up once in a while but never hang around too long.About a month ago myself & a few friends ( all ex-Montrealers) got together for a hockey game (world Jr's) and we made our own steamies good but just not the same. I doubt I eat 2 hotdogs a year now,but when in Montreal I could have a few Cheeers ! Les

Ray A. said...

Hey Les, glad to see you are still busy posting stuff here. I used to be pretty actve with Verdun Connections many years back when it was with Microsoft Communitities (or whatever it was called). Now that I know about this blogspot, I'll be checking more often. I didn't know you personally, probably cause you were from the east side, I think, and me from the west near Beurling. Doesn't matter, though. Verdun was a great place to grow up. We didn't have much cash on hand, but we were happy! I love the place (River, aqueduct and all) and miss it a lot.
"Verdun once, Verdun twice, holy jumpin'"..ah you know the rest, I am sure.
Take care,
Ray A.

Les_F said...

Hi Ray glad you surfed by. I don't really post a lot,but I think of or see something Verdun / Montreal like & post it. Not like the old days with Verdun Connections on MSN groups, but I did try to save a lot of the stuff from there.Not many of the photos show up in the transition to here, but I saved what I could. Your welcome to peruse the site & have a laugh at some of the old stories. Add what you like too, I might one day crank it up a bit more in time, we will see. Neat thing here you don't have to join or any of that stuff,(or people can if they want) I just try to acknowledge everyone who does take the time to post something...I would leave the site wide open but too many spam posts , so I check them all before posting them to the site . Cheers ! thanks for dropping by & your right Verdun is just in us....- LesF