If you are going to move to Canada or you are just planning to study there, you should be acquainted with the Canadian gastronomy, since it is an inherent part of the country’s culture. The cuisine of Canada is quite more diverse than the cuisines of many European countries and significantly vary across different regions. Actually, this occurred due to the colonization of the Canadian lands by the French and British states as well as the large waves of immigration during the 19th and 20th centuries. Now, let’s have a look what the Canadian gastronomy actually is.
A bit of history of the Canadian gastronomy
When speaking about the history of the Canadian gastronomy, one should not miss the food of the aboriginal people of Canada. Prior to the times of Canada’s colonization, the aboriginal people ate meat and agricultural products they harvested in those lands. Even at that time, however, the food of the Canadians varied across the regions. For instance, people ate the “Eskimo potato” in some regions, and that is the plant that grows solely in Canada and on the territory of Alaska. Muktuk, which is the frozen skin and fat of whales, had also been very popular.
The Canadian aboriginal people are claimed to be the first to invent the maple syrup, which is consumed nowadays across the entire world. Pacific salmon was also consumed by many Canadians and prepared by the way of burying it in the ground in the summer time and extracting the next year.
However, the colonization of those lands brought many novelties to the diet of the locals and was heavily influenced by the French and the British rule. It is considered that the French cuisine is predominant in Lower Canada (such regions as New Brunswick, Northern Ontario, and Quebeck), whereas the traits of the British cuisine are typically found in Upper Canada (Southern Ontario, for instance).
Yet, Canada has been an attractive land not solely for the citizens of the British Empire and France, but also for immigrants from other countries. That is the reason why one is able to find the traits of Dutch, Scandinavian, Ukrainian, Polish, and German cuisines in some regions. The cuisine of the East Asia is also heavily present in many Canadian regions, yet it had been transformed according to the tastes of the locals. You cannot not to know about the California rolls, right? And Canada is the place of their origin!
Though, one is able to state surely that most of the dishes that we consider naturally Canadian were invented during the times of the Canadian self-governance, i.e. since 1867. And now let’s have a look at what are those dishes.
Traditional Canadian foods
Poutine is definitely considered to be the No. 1 traditional Canadian dish and represents some mix of the French and Canadian cuisines. It is not surprising that this dish is attributed partly to the French cuisine (not only the name suggests it), because it has been invented in the region of Quebec. This fast food is incredibly popular nowadays and is made of cheese curds with French fries dressed with a brown gravy. The dish was invented in the 1950s, though there are several restaurants and places that claim to be the inventors of Poutine.
Poutine is the most widespread traditional dish of Canada and a popular fast food
Butter tarts are also the essential desserts of the Canadian cuisine and are made of pastry shell, eggs, syrup, sugar, butter, and raisins. Unlike Poutine, this dish has been an inherent part of the Canadian gastronomy since as early as the 16th century. Though, it should not come as a surprise that there are different variations of this dessert across the Canadian regions.
BeaverTails, which are widely known nowadays thanks to the chain of restaurants of the same name, appeared in Canada in 1978. Well, it was the first time when Graham Hooker tried to take advantage of the family recipe and introduced it to a wide audience, and he succeeded. Basically, this snack is just a flattened doughnut that does not have a hole and can be covered with sugar, Nutella, or other sweet jams.
Nanaimo bars are another sweet in the Canadian gastronomy with a top layer of chocolate, middle layer of custard, and wafer-crumb base. Even though it is not known where and when it was invented, this snack gained popularity in the 1950s.
Usually called in Canada as Peameal bacon, this dish is known as the Canadian bacon in the rest of the world. Unlike all other types of bacon, this dish is made of pork loin without any bones and prepared by trimming, curing in wetness, and rolling in cornmeal. Credit for the invention of this way of preparing the meat is given to William Davies and his company, which also was one of the largest pork packers in the entire British Empire.
Tourtiére is another dish in this list that was invented in the French-speaking regions of the country. Actually, this meat is a meat pie made of sliced beef, veal, and pork. This dish is traditional for the Christmas celebrations, though some inhabitants of Quebeck and other Canadian French-speaking regions may eat it throughout the year.
Tourtiére is, basically, a tasty, yet a calorie-rich meat pie
According to the research carried out by the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, a significant number of the Canadian citizens claim pierogi to be the essential dish of the Canadian gastronomy. Some people might know this dish under the name “varenyky”, as it is called in Ukraine and known in other cuisines. This dish is popular across the entire Eastern Europe and is known in such countries as Poland and Slovakia as “pierogi” or “pirohy”. It is easy to trace the origins of this dish – basically, it was brought to Canada by the emigrants from Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Western Ukraine (in Western Ukraine, both words – “pierogi” and “varenyky” – are used to denote this dish). Pierogi are simply the dumplings filled with different ingredients (such as potatoes and cabbage) and cooked in the boiling water.
How to the traditional Canadian restaurants look like
Actually, you shouldn’t expect that the traditional Canadian restaurants would like like the German ones. In fact, they are typically adorned in a quite minimalistic style and represent cozy dining places. For instance, the restaurant Boralia in Toronto offers all the dishes of the Canadian gastronomy, starting from the pre-colonization times. If you visit this restaurant, just have a look upwards – you will notice that you will actually be sitting in a typical longhouse of the aboriginal people with a timber frame at the top.
This way looks La Buffet de L’Antiquaire from outside
Hopgood’s Foodliner, also located in Toronto, is another typical Canadian restaurant that looks rather like a kitchen than a public space for dining. Basically, you will find any Canadian dish you want in this restaurant. La Buffet de L’Antiquaire, as its name suggests and which is located in Quebeck, looks somewhat similar to Hopgood’s Foodliner. You will be able to have a look at the authentic Canadian restaurant, and, don’t worry, the fact that this restaurant is located in the tourist zone will not spoil your experience.
In order to find out more about the Canadian gastronomy, you may make use of the following links: