With all the fantastic reasons to visit Canada, food may not be very high on your list. In fact, many non-Canadians don’t even realize Canada has a distinctive cuisine. That’s not too surprising, because Canada has attracted millions of immigrants from all over the world, and you can find restaurants offering a wide selection of fine international dishes.
However, it is also true that each province of Canada has developed their own regional specialties, and whether you’re staying at the Niagara Fall Marriott or a backpacker hostel, here are the 10 foods you need to try before you leave Canada:
Maple Glazed Bacon
If you’re feeling a little hungrier, you can also get maple glazed baked ham, maple glazed pork chops, and even maple glazed turkey. Basically, if it is maple glazed, you’re probably in Canada. Canadians love maple so much, they even put a maple leaf on their flag!
What’s more delicious than fresh lobster? Fresh seawater lobster cooked in a small portion of the Atlantic Ocean of course! Ocean water contains about seven teaspoons of very high quality sodium chloride salt, which is pulled into the lobster meat by osmosis. The salt raises the boiling point of the water to over 221°F, softening the meat and sealing in the juices, so you get a really tender and juicy serving.
Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich
You don’t have to go all the way to Montreal to eat Montreal smoked meat, but clearly the closer you get to Montreal, the more authentic it’s going to be. The actual meat can be anything, but pork is the most common. It’s usually served between two slices of white bread with a generous layer of mustard applied.
Of course, no list of Canadian cuisine would be complete without the ubiquitous side dish known as “poutine”. It’s just fries with gravy and cheese curds, but some people consider it magic.
With all the meaty dishes on this list, you may fear the worst, but the name of this one comes from its shape, not its primary ingredient. A beaver tail is a deep-fried sugary bread similar to a donut, except it’s flattened out and shaped into a beaver tail shape, then generously topped with your choice of sweet, delicious toppings!
Canada’s answer to fudge, the nanaimo bar gets its name from a hospital where it is claimed it was invented. The most important part of a nanaimo bar is the base, which is made from crushed graham crackers mixed with chopped nuts. On top of this you heap a gooey vanilla flavored substance that’s half way between icing and custard. Then finish it off with a crispy layer of sweet dark chocolate.
You can find timbits at Tim Horton’s restaurants and plenty of other people have shamelessly stolen the name as well for these amazing mini-donut balls that come in a wide variety of intense and exotic flavors.
Bacon-Wrapped Bannock Dogs
A huge number of early settlers in Canada arrived from Scotland, and it is from there that the bannock takes its name. Like a cross between a bawbee bap and Turkish bread, the bannock is still distinctly different from both.
There are endless different ways to serve bannock, but in this variation the bannock is split open, one or more bacon-wrapped hot dogs are placed inside, and then a crazy combination of mustard, coleslaw, onions and relish is added. You can also add jalapeños for a bit of extra zing.
Saskatoon Berry Pie
When it’s done properly, this is a slightly ridiculous-looking pie with a really thin flaky pastry shell packed to bursting point with tiny but juicy saskatoon berries.
Trout with Preserved Lemon
Canada is blessed with excellent fresh water lakes and rivers, so not surprisingly the fish are excellent too, especially the trout. In fact, when served with preserved lemon, the trout is heavenly!
Sure, many people love to squeeze fresh lemon over their fish, but using preserved lemon in the true Canadian style will give you a stunning and vivid intensity of lemon flavor that is the perfect complement to the trout’s own complex flavor profile.
If served with piping hot julienned vegetables and maybe some lobster mashed potato or poutine, this is about as good as Canadian food can get without pouring maple syrup on it (but please don’t do that!).