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Canadian cuisine varies widely depending on the regions of the nation. The three earliest cuisines of Canada have First Nations, English, Scottish and French roots, with the traditional cuisine of English Canada closely related to British and Scottish cuisines, while the traditional cuisine of French Canada has evolved from French cuisine and the winter provisions of fur traders. With subsequent waves of immigration in the 19th and 20th century from Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe, South Asia, East Asia, and the Caribbean, the regional cuisines were subsequently augmented.
- 1 Definitions
- 2 Cultural contributions
- 3 National food
- 4 Regional
- 5 Some Canadian foods
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Although certain dishes may be identified as "Canadian" due to the ingredients used or the origin of its inception, an overarching style of Canadian cuisine is more difficult to define. Some Canadians such as the former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark believe that Canadian cuisine is a collage of dishes from the cuisines of other cultures. Clark himself has been paraphrased to have noted: "Canada has a cuisine of cuisines. Not a stew pot, but a smorgasbord.".
Some have sought to define Canadian cuisine along the line of how Claus Meyer defined Nordic cuisine in his Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen; namely that dishes in Canadian cuisine should reflect Canadian seasons, that they should use locally sourced ingredients that thrive in the Canadian climate, and that they are combined with good taste and health in mind. Others believe that Canadian cuisine is still in the process of being defined from the cuisines of the numerous cultures that have influenced it, and that being a culture of many cultures, Canada and its cuisine is less about a particular dish but rather how the ingredients are combined.
Canadian food has been shaped and impacted by continual waves of immigration, with the types of foods and from different regions and periods of Canada reflecting this immigration.
The traditional aboriginal cuisine of Canada was based on a mixture of wild game, foraged foods, and farmed agricultural products. Each region of Canada with its own First Nations and Inuit people used their local resources and own food preparation techniques for their cuisines.
Maple syrup was first collected and used by aboriginal people of Eastern Canada and North Eastern US. Canada is the world's largest producer of maple syrup. The origins of maple syrup production are not clear though the first syrups were made by repeatedly freezing the collected maple sap and removing the ice to concentrate the sugar in the remaining sap. Maple syrup is one of the most commonly consumed Canadian foods of Aboriginal origins.
In most of the Canadian West Coast and Pacific Northwest, Pacific salmon was an important food resource to the First Nations peoples, along with certain marine mammals. Salmon were consumed fresh when spawning or smoked dry to create a jerky-like food that can being stored year-round. The latter food is commonly known and sold as "salmon jerky". Whipped Soapberry, known as xoosum (HOO-shum, "Indian ice cream") in the Interior Salish languages of British Columbia, is consumed similarly to ice cream or as a cranberry-cocktail-like drink. It is known for being a kidney tonic, which are called agutak in arctic Canada (with animal/fish fat).
In the arctic, Inuit traditionally survived on a diet consisting of land and marine mammals, fish, and foraged plant products. Meats were consumed fresh but also often prepared, cached, and allowed to fermented into igunaq or kiviak. These fermented meats have the consistency and smell of certain soft aged cheeses. Snacks such as muktuk, which consist of whale skin and blubber is eaten plain, though sometimes dipped in soy sauce. Chunks of muktuk are sliced with an ulu prior to or during consumption. Fish are eaten boiled, fried, and prior to today's settlements, often in dried forms. The so-called "Eskimo potato" (Inuit: oatkuk: Claytonia tuberosa) and other "mousefoods" are some of the plants consumed in the arctic.
Foods such as "bannock", popular with First Nations and Inuit, reflect the historic exchange of these cultures with Scottish fur traders, who brought with them new ingredients and foods. Common contemporary consumption of bannock, powdered milk, and bologna by aboriginal Canadians reflects the legacy of Canadian colonialism in the prohibition of hunting and fishing, and the institutional food rations provided to Indian reserves. Due to similarities in treatment under colonialism, many Native American communities throughout the continent consume similar food items with some emphasis on local ingredients.
Settlers and traders from the British Isles account for the culinary influences of early English Canada in the Maritimes and Southern Ontario (Upper Canada), while French settlers account for the cuisine of southern Quebec (Lower Canada), Northern Ontario, and New Brunswick. Southwestern regions of Ontario have strong Dutch and Scandinavian influences.
In Canada's Prairie provinces, which saw massive immigration from Eastern and Northern Europe in the pre-WW1 era, Ukrainian, German, and Polish cuisines are strong culinary influences. Also noteworthy in some areas of the British Columbia Interior and the Prairies is the cuisine of the Doukhobors, Russian-descended vegetarians.
The cuisines of Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces derive mainly from British and Irish cooking, with a preference for salt-cured fish, beef, and pork. Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia also maintain strong British cuisine traditions.
Jewish immigrants to Canada during the late 1800s played a significant culinary role within Canada, chiefly renowned for Montreal-style bagels and Montreal-style smoked meat. A regional variation of both emerged within Winnipeg, Manitoba's Jewish community, which also derived Winnipeg-style Cheesecake from New York recipes. Winnipeg has given birth to numerous other unique dishes, such as the schmoo torte and "co-op style" rye bread and cream cheese.
Much of what are considered "Chinese dishes" in Canada are more likely to be Canadian or North American inventions, with the Chinese restaurants of each region tailoring their traditional cuisine to local tastes. This "Canadian Chinese cuisine" is widespread across the country, with great variation from place to place. The Chinese buffet, although found in the United States and other parts of Canada, had its origins in early Gastown, Vancouver, c.1870. This serving setup came out of the practice of the many Scandinavians working in the woods and mills around the shantytown getting the Chinese cook to put out a steam table on a sideboard, so they could "load up" and leave room on the dining table (presumably for "drink").
Common contenders as the Canadian national food include:
According to an informal survey by the Globe and Mail conducted through Facebook from collected comment, users considered the following to be the Canadian National dish, with maple syrup likely above all the other foods if it was considered:
- Poutine (51%)
- Montreal-style bagels (14%)
- Salmon jerky (dried smoked salmon) (11%)
- Perogy (10%)
- Ketchup chips (7%)
- Nova Scotian Donair (4%)
- California roll (1%)
- Maple syrup
- Nanaimo bars, smoked salmon, and butter tarts
While many ingredients are commonly found throughout Canada, each region with its own history and local population has unique ingredients, which are used to define unique dishes.
|Ingredient||Defining Dish||Pacific||Mountain||The Prairies||Ontario||Quebec||Atlantic||Northern|
|Saskatoon berries||Saskatoon berry jam||X||X||X|
|Fiddlehead ferns||Boiled fiddleheads||X||X||X|
|Maple syrup||Pancake topping||X||X||X|
|Harp seal||Flipper pie||X||X|
|Sockeye Salmon||Smoked Salmon||X|
|West Coast Salmon||Cedar-Plank Salmon||X|
|Atlantic Cod||Fish and brewis||X||X|
|Winnipeg goldeye||Smoked goldeye||X|
Wild game of all sorts is still hunted and eaten by many Canadians, though not commonly in urban centres. Venison, from white-tailed deer, moose, elk (wapiti) or caribou, is eaten across the country and is considered quite important to many First Nations cultures. Seal meat is eaten, particularly in the Canadian North, the Maritimes, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Wild fowl like ducks and geese, grouse (commonly called partridge) and ptarmigan are also regularly hunted. Other animals like bear and beaver may be eaten by dedicated hunters or indigenous people, but are not generally consumed by much of the population.
Wild Chanterelle, Pine, Morel, Lobster, Puffball, and other mushrooms are commonly consumed. Canada produces good cheeses, many successful beers and is known for its excellent ice wines and ice ciders. Gooseberries, Salmonberries, Pearberries, Cranberries and Strawberries and gathered from wild or grown.
Some Canadian foods
Although there are considerable overlaps between Canadian food and the rest of the cuisine in North America, many unique dishes (or versions of certain dishes) are found and available only in the country. Some are more commonly eaten than others.
|Calgary-style Ginger beef||Candied and deep fried beef, with sweet ginger sauce.||X||O||X|
|Roast beef with yorkshire pudding||Common Sunday dinner in English Canada, especially amongst Canadians of British ancestry.||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Roast Turkey||North American roast turkey||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Baked Beans||Beans cooked with maple syrup||X||X||X||X||X|
|Jiggs dinner||A Sunday meal similar to the New England boiled dinner||O|
|Back or peameal bacon||Called Canadian bacon in the US||X||X||X|
|Tourtière||A meat pie made of pork and lard||X||X||X||O|
|Montreal-style smoked meat||Deli style cured beef||X||X||O||X|
|Bannock||A fried bread and dough food||X||X||X||X||X|
|Bouilli||Québécois ham and vegetable potroast||O|
|Cod tongues and scrunchions||Baked Cod tongue and deep fried pork fat||O|
|Yellow pea soup||Split pea soup eaten by settlers such as the Habitant||X||X||X|
|Poutine||A dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy||X||X||X||X||O||X||X|
|Montreal-style bagels||A sweet, firm, wood-fired bagel||X||O|
|Pemmican||Ground dried meat, fat, and berries||X||X|
|Oka cheese||Monk cheese||X||O|
|Flipper pie||Pie made with harp seal flipper||O|
|Hot Chicken sandwich||Chicken (or turkey) sandwich doused in gravy and peas||X||X||X||X|
|Toutons||Fried bread from Newfoundland||O|
|Fish and brewis||Salt cod and hardtack, with pork cracklings||O|
|Rappie pie||Grated potato and meat casserole||O|
|Cretons||Pork spread containing onions and spices||X||O|
|Poutine râpée||Grated Acadian stuffed potato dumpling||O|
|Nova Scotian Donair||Ground beef doner kebab served with a sweet milk sauce||X||X||O|
|Garlic Fingers||Dough with cheese, garlic, and sometimes meat on top. Similar to pizza.||X||X||O|
|Lobster Roll||Lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise and served in a toasted hot dog bun||X||X||O|
|Cipaille/Sea-Pie||Fish and meat layered in a pie.||X||O||X|
- Pets de sœurs (lit. "farts of [holy] sisters")—pastry dough wrapped around a brown sugar and butter filling
- Matrimonial cake and pork pies (date filled desserts)
- Maple syrup, especially tire d'érable sur la neige or "maple toffee", also as flavouring, for example in Maple leaf cream cookies
- Jam busters (prairie jelly doughnuts)
- Apple pie
- Various black licorices
- Bumbleberry pie (Bumbleberry is "a mixture of fruit, berries, and rhubarb".)
- Nanaimo bars – most common in British Columbia
- Butter tarts – said to be invented in Eastern Ontario around 1915 . The main ingredients for the filling includes, butter, sugar and eggs, but raisins and pecans are often added for additional flavour.
- Beaver tails, also known as Elephant Ears, Moose Antlers or Whale Tails
- Sugar pie
- Persians—somewhat like a cross between a large cinnamon bun and a doughnut, topped with strawberry icing, unique to Thunder Bay, Ontario.
- Sucre à la crème—Québécois sweet milk squares.
- Nougabricot, a Québécois preserve consisting of apricots, almonds, and pistachios.
- Candy apple—also known by the British term "toffee apple", candied apples are far more popular than in the United States, where the caramel apple is common.
- Moosehunters (Molasses cookies).
- Figgy duff – a pudding from Newfoundland
- Flapper Pie (Wafer Pie in Manitoba) – A custard pie popular in Western Canada
- Tiger tail ice cream: the once omnipresent black licorice and orange flavour ice-cream popular throughout Canada
- Grandpères, dough dumplings deep fried in maple syrup
Commercially prepared food and beverages
- Chocolate Bars: Coffee Crisp, Mr. Big, Caramilk, Big Turk, Cherry Blossom, Crunchie, Crispy Crunch, Aero
- Other candy: Glosette Pieces (Peanut, Raisin, or Almonds), Bridge Mixture (bridge mix)
- Kraft Dinner (many purchase store-brand mac and cheese, but still call it this)
- Canadian pizza: (typically includes tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, bacon, pepperoni, and mushrooms; variations exist). The recipe is also known internationally by this name. (The classic preparation, however, is often referred to in Québécois as Pizza québécoise.)
- Shreddies Cereal
- Cows Ice Cream (Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Whistler)
- Red River Cereal
- Ketchup, Salt and Vinegar, dill pickle, and "all-dressed" flavoured potato chips
- Nabob Coffee
- Tim Hortons, Second Cup Coffee
- Hawkins Cheezies
- Canada Dry ginger ale
- Spruce beer (bière d'épinette, non-alcoholic soft drink) from Quebec
- Loganberry (drink) from Crystal Beach, Ontario
- Bagged Milk
- Ready-to-Eat Soups
- Red Rose Tea
- Ringolos & Humpty Dumpty Party Mix
- Canadian beer
- Canadian whisky, "Rye" whisky
- Yukon Jack, a Canadian whisky-based liqueur similar to the U.S drink "Southern Comfort"
- Canadian wine, Ice wine
- Ice cider
- Newfoundland Screech
- Maple liqueur: Sold bottled as Sortilege, this drink combines Canadian whisky and maple syrup
- Caribou: A mix of red wine, maple syrup, and Canadian whisky. Consumed during winter festivals in Quebec.
- The Caesar, originally called the Bloody Caesar, is a cocktail made from vodka, clamato juice (clam-tomato juice), Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, in a salt-rimmed glass (table salt or celery salt), and garnished with a stalk of celery, or more adventurously with a spoonful of horseradish, or a shot of beef bouillon. The Caesar was invented in 1969 in Calgary, Alberta, by bartender Walter Chell to mark the opening of a new restaurant Marco's.
While most major cities in Canada (including Montreal, in a pilot project) offer a variety of street food, regional "specialties" are notable. While poutine is available in most of the country, it is far more common in Quebec. Similarly, hot dog stands can be found across Canada, but are far more common in Ontario (often sold from mobile canteen trucks, usually referred to as "fry trucks" or "chip trucks" and the hot dogs "street meat") than in Vancouver or Victoria (where the "Mr. Tube Steak" franchise is notable and the term "smokies" or "smokeys" refers to Ukrainian sausage rather than frankfurters).
Montreal offers a number of specialties including Shish taouk, the Montreal hot dog, and dollar falafels. Although falafel is widespread in Vancouver, pizza slices are much more popular. Vancouver also has many sushi establishments. Shawarma is quite prevalent in Ottawa, and Windsor, while Halifax offers its own unique version of the Döner kebab called the Donair, which features a distinctive sauce made from condensed milk, sugar, garlic and vinegar. Ice cream trucks can be seen (and often heard due to a jingle being broadcast on loudspeakers) nationwide during the summer months. Recently, the city of Toronto has encouraged street vendors from around the world to sell their food.
- Chinese Smorgasbord: (See #East Asian)
- Lumberjack's Breakfast, aka Logger's Breakfast, aka "The Lumby": a gargantuan breakfast of three-plus eggs; rations of ham, bacon and sausages; plus several large pancakes.Invented by hotelier J. Houston c.1870, at his Granville Hotel on Water Street in old pre-railway Gastown, Vancouver, in response to requests from his clientele for a better "feed" at the start of a long, hard day of work .
- Pandi, George (2008-04-05), "Let's eat Canadian, but is there really a national dish?", The Gazette (Montreal) Also published as "Canadian cuisine a smorgasbord of regional flavours"
- Voinigescu, Eva (January 24, 2013), "What is Canadian Cuisine, Anyway?", Toronto Standard
- Jacobs, Hersch (2009), "Structural Elements in Canadian Cuisine", Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures 2 (1)
- "Maple Syrup." Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Accessed July 2011.
- Koelling, Melvin R; Laing, Fred; Taylor, Fred (1996). "Chapter 2: History of Maple Syrup and Sugar Production". In Koelling, Melvin R; Heiligmann, Randall B. North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual. Bulletin 856. Ohio State University. Archived from the original on 29 April 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
- merriam-webster.com Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- Michael D. Blackstock. "Bannock Awareness". Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- EFRON, SARAH (July 17, 2012), "Bannock tacos, fried baloney – this is aboriginal cuisine?", The Globe and Mail
- From Milltown to Metropolis, Alan Morley
- Early Vancouver, J.S. Skitt Matthews
- Trillin, Calvin (2009-11-23), "Canadian Journal, "Funny Food,"", The New Yorker: 68–70
- Wong, Grace (2010-10-02), Canada's national dish: 740 calories -- and worth every bite?, CNN
- Sufrin, Jon (2010-04-22), "Is poutine Canada’s national food? Two arguments for, two against", Toronto Life
- Allemang, John (2010-07-03), "We like our symbols rooted in the past, and in Quebec", Globe and Mail
- Baird, Elizabeth (2009-06-30), "Does Canada Have a National Dish?", Canadian Living
- DeMONTIS, RITA (2010-06-21), "Canadians butter up to this tart", Toronto Sun
- Chapman, Sasha (September 2012). "Manufacturing Taste". The Walrus. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
- O'Neil, Lauren (June 28, 2012), The CBC Community chooses Canada's most iconic food, CBC
- Driver, Elizabeth (2008), Culinary landmarks: a bibliography of Canadian cookbooks, 1825–1949, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 978-0-8020-4790-8
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