Lakes, mountains, touques, people saying "Sorry" when you bump into them.....these are the most common things outsiders think of when imagining Canada. Food? Not so much. Surely Canadians just eat the same things as Americans.
Well, although the Canadian diet and food scene is similar to that of our U.S. neighbors it has its own nuances, including many unique delicacies.
Canada's heritage is steeped in multiculturalism and the national foodscape reflects this. Plus, there are a few culinary idiosyncrasies that are perhaps beyond explanation or were born of desperation. French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds? Who thinks of these things?
Ketchup Potato Chips
Each country seems to have its own brand of bizarre flavor of potato chip and Canada is no different. Japan has wasabi ginger, Australia has Caesar salad and China has blueberry to name a few. Well, in Canada there is nothing weird about ketchup flavored chips though visitors may not agree (until they try them). The crunchy crisp may make your fingers red, but the fresh tangy tomato seasoning is a natural complement to the salty potato chip.
It’s only fitting that a dessert as beautifully delicious as the Nanaimo bar originated in the beautiful city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. These bars consist of a wafer crumb-based layer topped with custard flavored butter icing and melted chocolate. The taste is so good that Nanaimo bars have started to expand into the Northern United States. But why not enjoy one (or two) where it all began!
Bacon is one of the first things that comes to mind when people think of Canada. Canadians praise its fatty succulence whether it’s on BLT’s, with eggs, pancakes, or straight up. In fact, a Huffington Post study concluded that 43% of Canadians would choose bacon over sex. In Canada, the term “bacon” on its own typically refers to the strip bacon pictured here, which comes from the belly of the pig. Indulging in some juicy bacon is one of the many advantages of traveling to Canada.
Probably the most famous Canadian dish is the ultimate comfort food: poutine. Born in Quebec, this unlikely culinary concoction is a dish of french fries topped with cheese curds and slathered with gravy. It is sold coast to coast in pubs, diners, hockey arenas, and chip wagons. Smoke’s Poutinerie is a nationwide franchise that offers authentic poutine. Admittedly not the healthiest choice, poutine is nevertheless a unique - if not slightly baffling - fast food cuisine choice in Canada, and we invite you to see what all the fuss is about.
You know a dessert is good when it’s better than the main course. Butter tarts are one of those desserts. They're made of butter, sugar, syrup, and egg then poured into a flaky pastry and finally baked until the filling is runny on the inside and firm on the outside. The first instance of butter tarts dates back to Canadian pioneers, but the recipe came to fame in 1900 when it was published in a cookbook. If you get the chance to order a butter tart at a restaurant or store, we encourage you to try one of these heavenly pastries!
Canada loves the sweet taste of wild blueberries. The smaller, sweeter variety of the regular blueberry is one of those glorious signs of summer.
Also known as "lowbush blueberries," wild blueberries grow in eastern North America but primarily in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. Canada is the world's biggest exporter of the wild blueberries. But if you're in Canada in the summer, stop by a local fruit stand to try them freshly picked.
Wild blueberries enhance many dishes and desserts like pancakes, yogurt, pastries, and more.
Montreal Smoked Meat
Southern BBQ and pastrami get a lot of attention, but in Quebec, nothing beats a Montreal smoked meat sandwich. This kosher-style deli meat is made by salting beef brisket and adding savory spices like coriander or mustard. It makes a scrumptious sandwich that is perfect to satisfy a big appetite. Schwartz’s, the oldest deli in Canada, sells mouthwatering smoked meat and is a must-try when you’re in Montreal.
Coming straight outta Quebec is the tourtière, a Canadian classic. This meat pie is made with diced pork, veal or beef and is especially popular at in Canada for Christmas and New Year’s, but also sold in grocery stores across Canada all year. There are variations of this delicious dish like Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Montreal, Acadian, and Manitoba tourtière, all made in slightly different ways. But the one constant is the hearty taste and nostalgia that the dish represents.
BeaverTails is a Canadian chain of pastry stands coast to coast. The brand’s namesake product is hand stretched to look like a beaver tail, fried to add on calorie-filled, heart-stopping goodness, and finished with a variety of toppings like chocolate banana, apple cinnamon, and maple. BeaverTails stands dot the Ottawa area, including the Rideau Canal, which is famously turned into a public skating rink during winter. What’s more Canadian than skating outdoors and munching on a BeaverTail?
Looking very much like lemon meringue pie, flapper pie is actually comprised of a cinnamon graham base, a vanilla custard filling and topped with meringue. This dessert hails from Manitoba but may be found in the neighboring provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
One taste and you'll wonder why this delicious delicacy didn't gain popularity nationwide, but just find joy in the fact that you became acquainted.
Flapper pie had its height of popularity in days gone by. It tends to be a "grandma's recipe" dish. With the Internet though, the recipe can be found easily and supermarkets and bakeries may carry it in the Canadian prairie provinces.