Messy and Indulgent: Monster Burgers and Poutine

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According to the ‘hemline indicator’ (also called ‘the bare knees, bull market’ theory), when skirts get short, the markets go up. We believe it, but what do messy and indulgent eating habits say? That it’s all spiralling out of control? Getting truly decadent…?

With the emergence of freakshakes, monster burgers and the Canadian favourite, poutine, ‘messy and indulgent’ is our Dish of the Season (every issue we’ll bring you a new Dish).

Messy indulgence comes to us courtesy of the US, Canada, and Australia but it’s hitting fertile soil here in Ireland thanks, we think, to the tradition of filling up after the pubs close – that’s when clean living and dainty portions go out the window…

These dishes were created to be shared – think four straws sticking out of a Freakshake and three pairs of hands grabbing for the monster burger – but that won’t stop a few going solos.


Also called a ‘Challenger Burger’, the Monster is way over-the-top: three, four, five beef patties, plus – take your pick – bacon, pulled pork, chicken fillets, fried eggs, sausages… You’ll need hands like shovels just to pick it up.

Chili Shack in Stoneybatter, Dublin have created what they claim is Dublin’s biggest burger: we counted five or six chicken patties, four toppings of cheese, six or more pieces of bacon, a plethora of rocket and three brioche buns.


Poutine is the national dish of the French speaking part of Canada – Quebec. In its traditional form, it’s a tub of chips drowning in gravy and topped with weird fresh cheese – so fresh it’s made just a day before serving and when you bite into it you hear a definite squeak. The oddness of the texture is maybe the only stumbling block in the way of a Poutine explosion across the country – after all, it has a consistency not far from the national dish of Ireland – Curry Chips. It’s filling, hot and messy and has the necessary heft to give a decent amount of soakage after a few late-night drinks.

The dish originated in Quebec in the 1950s and its origins are disputed between various restaurants around the province. The meaning of the word is also contested with some believing it to be a Gallicization of the English word ‘pudding’ and others translating it as a French word for ‘mess’. It is so popular in Quebec that multi-nationals in the province, including McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC are putting it on their menus.

In Ireland you can sample this wondrous Canadian dish in Lala Poutine, a food truck that can be have seen at various festivals and markets around the country – they do the traditional Poutine but have a few variations to tempt the Irish palate wary of the fresh, squeaky cheese in the Quebecois version. They have a pulled pork gravy combo and also a chorizo and chicken mix – always on a base of chips and gravy of course. What’s not to like?

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