1 n. — Quebec, Social customs, plural mechouis
a large party, often outdoors, where lamb or other meat is roasted on a spit; a barbecue.
Type: 4. Culturally Significant — Mechoui is a lexical transfer from Quebec French and originally came to French through Arabic. According to Barber (2007: 155), the term is a transfer from the Arabic mashwi, which means "grilled foods". The term is by far most prevalent in Quebec (see Chart 1), which reflects the large Arabic-speaking community in that province. According to the 2011 census, Quebec has the largest percentage of Canadians of Arab origin of any province, with Montreal having the largest Arab community in Canada (see Statistics Canada reference).
Mechouis have become popular in Quebec, where they are often part of festivals and cultural celebrations.
See also COD-2, s.v. "mechoui", which is marked "Cdn (Que.)".
See also: bush party
- 1981  In his spare time, Mr. Cloutier now caters whole dinners built around lamb. A 35- to 40-pound lamb will feed about 25 people; usually he does two and serves barbecued chicken as well as pork and beans, baked potatoes and cole slaw. At a recent public mechoui, sponsored by the Eastern Townships Sheepbreeders' Association, he fed 100 people. Two weeks later he was back at the pit cooking lamb for a smaller group of workers at the farm.
- 1990  But before we go on, a word about mishwi. Or mishoui. Or mischwi. Or whichever of the 16 spellings people use.
My friend Tariq Omar Sharif, an Egyptian, explains it is really mechoui, an Arabic word meaning "halfway between cooked and roasted."
Around here it usually means a lamb roasted on a spit, but in French Morocco, presumably where we got the idea from, it often entails a goat.
Whatever the spelling or meaning, the mechoui party has become a big deal in Quebec.
A few weeks ago, I attended the Canadian Federation of Municipalities convention in Quebec City and the highlight of the social events was a big mechoui party at the Quebec exposition grounds. (I skipped it.)
At a mechoui party, everybody stands around watching a carcass, a whole carcass that actually looks like an animal, flailing around on a spit over charcoal.
- 2007  The annual spring mishoui on May 5 at Branch 242 of the Royal Canadian Legion in North Hatley was sold out. The pork and beef were smoked and cooked by Bob Sarrasin (here serving Brian Gagnon) and the live country music which followed was played by Dave Bessant.
- 2013  For close to twenty years now, the Reilly House has partnered with the Multi-Cultural Festival in organizing the BBQ/Mechoui held on Festival day.
2 n. — Food
a whole animal, usually a lamb, roasted on a spit.
Type: 4. Culturally Significant — Although not as strongly associated with Quebec cuisine as poutine or Montreal smoked meat, mechoui has become popular in Quebec, and roasting mechouis is often part of festivities and celebrations.
See also COD-2, s.v. "mechoui" (1), which is marked "Cdn (Que.)".
See also: poutine (meaning 1) Montreal smoked meat
- 1980  Amble into one of the alleys. You will barely to able to move, it's so crowded. You won't hear yourself think because of the noise - radios, people, some TV sets, the roar of motorbikes in the wider alleys. The aromas from the food stalls and restaurants - the lemon chicken, the roasting mechoui (sheep), the kebabs, lamb, mutton, sausages, the couscous - will make your mouth water.
- 1983  MECHOUI: To the Arabs a meshwi is any meat grilled or roasted over a fire; it might be doner kebab or shish kebab or kofta meshweya. To the French, who have taken to mechoui since the influx of people from Algeria, it means a whole lamb barbecued over a large fire.
At its best, a mechoui can be a lamb from your host's flock, skilfully cooked to brown crispness of skin and pink tenderness of meat, eaten out of doors on a sunny day with many salads and relishes, much wine and conversation.
- 1990  The large bowl of couscous was generously topped with the slices of well-roasted lamb (mechoui) that my friend prefers to the bone- in chunks of stewed lamb in the ordinary couscous, and accompanied by another bowl of stewed turnips, carrots, potatoes, chick peas and zucchini in a light, clear broth.
- 2002  The lamb for tonight's dinner comes from Barrhead, where an aunt has a lamb-raising neighbour. I mention mechoui, the Middle-Eastern whole barbecued lamb, wondering if she's ever made it.
- 2008  But king among the plates was the impressive mechoui, a weighty slice of lamb shoulder slow-cooked to tenderness.
- 2015  If your thirst for exploration takes you as far north as Val-des-Monts, you can reserve a mechoui of lamb, pork, wild boar or goat. Restaurants specializing in local foods are included, so are kitchen and tableware shops.
Image 1: A mechoui (meaning 2). Source: Wikimedia Commons. Photo: J. Mabel
Chart 1: Regional Domain Search, 8 Jul. 2013