So what is Canadian food?

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So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jenise » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:06 pm

A neighborhood friend, born and raised in Toronto and currently vacationing in the Okanagan Valley, writes:

We think we should come up with a Canadian dinner and wine night. You up for that? It will take some noodling to put the menu together. Right now the only classic Canadian dish I can think of is me! I used to think that Canadian food is just American food in smaller quantities, but after yesterday's restaurant visits that is clearly no longer the case, if it ever was.

After I finished laughing, her comments startled me into realizing that in spite of having good Canadian friends and eating more often in Canadian restaurants than I do American given my border proximity, I've never looked at Canadian food as 'different' from what I used to be used to. What differences I've noted are more like the kind of regional variations that exist quite strongly within the U.S.--barbecue, southwestern, southern, etc. But for poutine, there's nothing I can think of offhand that I frequently see on Canadian menus that I wouldn't see in Seattle, say. The differences that come to to mind immediately are mostly related to the British/European influence: cheese plates very common in place of sweet desserts, how much ice I get (or don't) in my water, more foie gras there than here, and the like.

But I do hear about dishes with French names that are popular in eastern Canada. The above friend frequently makes tourtiere, for instance, the Quebecoise meat pie. And there's Montreal smoked beef, which is almost identical in taste and style to the pastrami I grew up with in Southern California--it was a staple of the independent drive-in burger joints of my So Cal childhood and is a little different than what you'd get in a Jewish deli. The end-result sandwich is different than what you'd get up here, but the meat nails it--and oh do I love it.

Unfortunately, nothing else immediately comes to mind. Maybe I've gotten so used to it I don't see it? Entirely possible. So I solicit your help: Bill Spohn? David N? Anyone? If I were to participate in a Canadian-centric dinner, what should I consider contributing?
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:54 pm

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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:14 pm

Great list, Karen! Here's another: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_cuisine
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jenise » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:38 pm



That was interesting. Everything I mentioned was in there, and then some! Some of which made me laugh: wouldn't have a CLUE about Kinder Eggs except that I got stuck at the border for an extra hour once while they dealt with some klutz who was trying to bring a bunch of those across the border.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Redwinger » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:04 pm

Eskimo pies, snow cones, and Labatt pretty much cover Canadian cuisine.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Peter May » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:51 pm




Methinks the authors are clutching at straws


Prince Edward Island's world-famous potatoes. Never heard of them.

Kinder Surprise - They are imported from Italy. Says the article "but you won't find Kinder Surprise eggs in countries like the United States." I question if there are any other countries like the US, but aside from that, according to Wikipedia, you will find Kinder Surprise everywhere except the US. Certainly they're on the counter of my local paper shop.

Apples 'Some of the most popular domestic varieties are only one on the list originated in Canada, the others name are:
Cortland - bred at New York State Agricultural Experiment Station
Gala - bred in NZ
Fuji - bred in Japan
Golden Delicious originated in Virginia
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jenise » Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:07 pm

Peter May wrote:



Methinks the authors are clutching at straws


Prince Edward Island's world-famous potatoes. Never heard of them.

Kinder Surprise - They are imported from Italy. Says the article "but you won't find Kinder Surprise eggs in countries like the United States." I question if there are any other countries like the US, but aside from that, according to Wikipedia, you will find Kinder Surprise everywhere except the US. Certainly they're on the counter of my local paper shop.

Apples 'Some of the most popular domestic varieties are only one on the list originated in Canada, the others name are:
Cortland - bred at New York State Agricultural Experiment Station
Gala - bred in NZ
Fuji - bred in Japan
Golden Delicious originated in Virginia


Tend to agree re the straws; the apple item made me grimace too. They got a lot of the basics right but then had to flesh it out with typical error-filled HuffPo reporting, I'm afraid.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:41 pm

We've visited Canada twice and I can't say the food was excellent, or different, just seem rather plain, but it was good. I was amazed at the grocery stores, however. At the time we visited, things were very different than our supermarkets. Once I wanted a roast, and I went into a large grocery store....no roasts, very different cuts of meat than what I was used to. I'm sure a lot has changed by now. I also cannot recall that they had anything special that we were told to try, because it was a Canadian favorite.
In Banff, Alberta, we went to see the Oh Canada, eh show and the meal was really good but simple. Chicken, beef, potatoes, carrots very flavorful and well done.
In Edmonton, we had dinner at the Fantasy Hotel and the best thing we had was the Steak Diane, it was excellent, but again...we get that here. Yes, these were tourist places, but we did eat at several local stops....it just seemed much like what we eat here with a few twists here and there.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Carl Eppig » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:08 pm

As you and others including the HP have pointed out either directly or indirectly there is French Canadian food, and Other Canadian food. I love the first kind and find the other much like American food.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:13 pm

Just saw an episode of the latest Anthony Bourdain show that involved a trip to Montreal. I thought he might investigate traditional Canadian food but he ended up spending his time with a couple of guys who take truffles and a shaver with them everywhere they go and who serve up things like Lievre a la Royale in their ice fishing shack.

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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jenise » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:04 pm

Carl Eppig wrote:As you and others including the HP have pointed out either directly or indirectly there is French Canadian food, and Other Canadian food. I love the first kind and find the other much like American food.


It seems like that's what we've all turned up. Jeff's link probably shed as much light on the matter as can be found. FWIW, my Canadian friend who wants to make the Canadian dinner is currently planning on some maple-marinated chicken and a recipe for strawberries in white zinfandel, for which she'll substitute a BC rose. All fine, and probably the first time she's ever done that combination, but my family's been using maple syrup to marinate chicken ever since a vacation to Yosemite when I was 10 or 12 when it and soy sauce were all we had around to build a marinade with. It could never feel entirely Canadian to me!

And Mike, I saw that episode and know what you mean.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jenise » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:42 pm

So my friend has set the theme for her dinner.

Her husband once told her a joke, that the Canadian equivalent of "As American as apple pie" is "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances." That's going to be the theme of the dinner then, "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances."

Pretty funny.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Ted Richards » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:16 pm

Jenise wrote:the Canadian equivalent of "As American as apple pie" is "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances."


In 1971, the late Peter Gzowski, host of CBC radio's "This Country in the Morning", held a contest to complete the phrase "as Canadian as ...", and that was Heather Scott's winning entry.
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jenise » Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:22 pm

Ted Richards wrote:
Jenise wrote:the Canadian equivalent of "As American as apple pie" is "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances."


In 1971, the late Peter Gzowski, host of CBC radio's "This Country in the Morning", held a contest to complete the phrase "as Canadian as ...", and that was Heather Scott's winning entry.


Cool! I'll have to let Agnes know that her husband didn't make it up...or should I? :)
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Re: So what is Canadian food?

Postby Jenise » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:35 pm

So while grocery shopping in Canada yesterday, I found something I've never seen before in America or Europe. Don't know if that qualifies it as a Canadian thing or not or I just haven't been to the right parts of either (entirely possible), but it was called a sour cabbage. It's a whole pickled cabbage contained in its own tight fitting wrapper, with some juice for company, that one could ostensibly take home and sliver up into sauerkraut. Why you would prefer to do it this way is a mystery to me, but if someone knows I would appreciate enlightenment.

Of course I bought one.
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