Canada is hardly the first destination one would think of when it comes to gastronomical traveling. European countries typically take first place, with France, Italy, and Spain being swarmed with people’s appetites. South East Asia is also taking off as a foodie destination, notably because of the Netflix Series Street Food. But Canada has a surprisingly diverse array of dishes to offer, which makes sense given its international influence. Canada takes culinary inspiration from the First Nations tribes, but also its British and French past. Quebec has a surprising take on French cuisine given that the locals wanted to consume the foods from back home but couldn’t because of the lack of ingredient availability. Nonetheless, Quebecois food is the pride of the province.
Poutine is an excellent place to start our making our way across Canada. The ultimate late-night food, poutine is incredibly comforting, greasy, and delicious. A hodgepodge of fries, cheese curds, and gravy, it sounds odd (especially the cheese curds), but don’t knock it ’til you try it! Poutine is originally from Quebec but can be found all over Canada. A few places in San Francisco and New York sell it, but if you live in a small town, you might need to wait a bit before it gains in popularity.
Another dish from Quebec (and yes, we’re also sensing over-representation) is pea soup. You might think of this is as something that comes out of a red and white can and tastes slimy and revolting, but Canadian pea soup is something else entirely. A terrific concoction made from split peas and whole smoked ham hock, this soup is not only incredibly comforting on a cold winter night, but it is also an umami bomb. We have the smoked ham to thank for that, though the signature herb blend of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and sage adds a lovely floral note to the dish.
Saskatoon berries are grown all over Canada, but especially in the Prairies and British Columbia. They do, of course, originally come from Saskatchewan, but today’s agriculture has led them to be spread throughout the country. The berries themselves look a lot like blueberries, but they’re actually more closely related to apples. They have a sweet, nutty almond flavor that’s just to die for. We highly recommend trying them baked in a pie with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Most countries have some format of an egg tart. Let’s remember, for instance, the glory that are Portuguese pasteis de Nata, or those Chinese egg custard tarts typically eaten for dim sum. But Canadian egg tarts are different in a few different ways. First of all, the pastry is made of a dense yet flaky pastry, and once the filling is poured and baked, it is crunchy on top instead of thick and creamy. This style of tart is very Canadian, but their origin is hazy. Some think they can be traced back to the 1600s, while others believe they strongly resemble American pecan pies and Quebec’s sugar pies.
Beaver Tails are Canada’s answer to donuts. They consist of deep fried pastries that are then flattened to look like a beaver’s tail, the country’s national animal. They can be topped with a myriad of flavors, such as cinnamon sugar or Nutella. A fairly recent creation at having been originally cooked by a husband and wife in Ottawa, the recipe was passed down through the husband’s family. They refuse to share it with anyone, so the best you can do is make your way to Canada and sample them at the chain by the same name.