NBA Finals 2019: ‘We The North’ is rallying cry; poutine, ketchup-flavored potato chips are delicacies

TORONTO — Get through customs at Toronto Pearson International Airport, grab your luggage and near the airport exit a Canadian delicacy awaits.

It’s being cooked inside a food truck painted plaid and probably not with the approval of any dietician. Individual baskets of french fries are served covered with gravy and cheese curds — 710 calories, 38 grams of fat and 78 grams per serving.

“A true salute of ‘Wecome to Canada,’ ” Jordan Wannamaker, 28, a manager at a nutrition store, told USA TODAY Sports with a smile. “It’s Canadian salad.’’

Not quite.

It’s called poutine, and at the airport was an artery-clogging clue that these NBA Finals — the first held in Canada and matching the Toronto Raptors against the Golden State Warriors — would have a distinct flavor. And yes, fans can enjoy it at Scotiabank Arena while watching games.

Steph Curry got his indoctrination as an 11-year-old when his father, Dell, played three seasons for the Raptors. And so recently Steph Curry was asked if when in Canada he gets “some fries with that stuff in it.’’

“Poutine?’’ Curry said. “Not really."

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Well, then. For the non-poutine eaters, Canada has another offering: ketchup-flavored potato chips. And if you like your bacon round, of course there’s Canadian bacon, but the NBA Finals’ flavor isn’t measured only by gastronomics. 

The natives take no more pride in poutine, ketchup-flavored chips and round bacon as they do in their civility. A popular saying here is: If a tree falls in the forest, does a Canadian still have to apologize for it?

“You bump into some one purposely and they’ll tell you sorry,’’ Kheerand Singh, a 44-year-old retired grocery store owner, told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s the funniest thing. Mind you, the new generation isn’t quite as polite as the older generation.’’

So the members of the younger generation might be more apt to call Americans “hosers” (translation: a foolish or uncultivated person, idiot).

Also, Canadians are capable of having conversations without the constant use of “eh,’’ but it’s a good idea to cut them some slack, eh? Especially if after Toronto beat Golden State 118-109 in Game 1, the Canadians cried out, “The Raptors made the Warriors look like hosers last night, eh?’’

A fan holds a sign with the Raptors' slogan 'We The North' – which was coined six years ago. (Photo: Nick Turchiaro, USA TODAY Sports)

Americans arriving here for the basketball games will quickly encounter another curiosity — the slogan “We The North.’’

It was developed for the Raptors, the NBA’s only Canadian team, six years ago and has become a battle cry for the city, which this week is awash in posters, signs and T-shirts emblazoned with “We The North.’’ 

This is part of the campaign vernacular, revealed in a promotional video published as part of a series when the slogan was coined:

"In many ways we are in a league of our own…

Far from the East side.

Miles from the West side.

No where near the South Side."

Some NBA teams were quick to point out they play in cities further north than Toronto – such as the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves. But, the slogan stuck.

“They would do better working on their grammar,’’ said Gary in guest services at a large Toronto mall.

You will learn something else about Canadians when you leave that mall and realize you forgot your backpack, which contains your passport and laptop, in the busy food court.

Five minutes later, heart pounding, you arrive where you had been sitting.

Of course only a hoser would guess these Canadians would have taken the backpack rather than leave it where it was left.

We The North, indeed.

Follow USA TODAY Sports reporter Josh Peter on Twitter @joshlpeter11

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