10 Foods “Made in Canada”
Canada is a multi-cultural country with many influences when it comes to their cuisine. When you ask a Canadian: “what is a Canadian food?”, the answers will vary. However, here are 10 foods made in Canada and here are some of our contributions to the culinary world.
Before it began!
It’s easy to speak of Canadian food and her contributions to the world of cuisine but it would be amiss if I didn’t pay tribute to the cuisine of those who were here long before European settlers arrived on Canadian soil. I’ve had the pleasure of working and eating the delicious eats by some of the most acclaimed Indigenous chefs in Toronto and privileged to showcase our Indigenous neighbours as a stop on my Food Tour through Kensington Market. If you’re looking for game meat, produce from seeds that have been preserved over generations all in the hands of masterful chefs, then the options below will not disappoint!
Pow Wow Cafe: Chef Shawn, the “Chief” of this special spot in Kensington Market has been serving up Ojibwe Style tacos since 2016. Formerly the “Indian Taco” has roots in New Mexico and has proliferated throughout North America. If there is a place to get your fix, look no further than Pow Wow Cafe! I love this place so much and its chef, that I celebrated my 43rd birthday there and it was an absolute hit amongst my friends.
NishDish: Tucked right inside Koreatown, Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette knows how to bring it! I had the pleasure of attending a special night where he and Chef Shawn of Pow Wow put together a night that I won’t easily forget. The food and the flavours are owned by this master in the kitchen where he brings a lot of the old with a flair for the new. Better known for catering but having a “brick and mortar” stop is definitely a must for those interested in learning while eating Canadian Roots (pun totally intended).
Kūkŭm Kitchen: By far the BEST taster menu in the city when it comes to the quality, quantity and price. One of the most memorable meals of 2017 for me and it is the only place I know in the city that serves seal meat. Chef Joseph Shawana has put together a dance for the palette that I know will not disappoint and the wine pairing option is again, the best bang you’re gonna find in Toronto.
What do you get when you put a bunch of French fries with cheese curds on top then drowned in gravy? Well, that is what Canadians call “Poutine”. The origins are often debated but where it was born is not. Poutine originated in the province of Quebec and they are very proud of that distinction. Since its inception back in the 1950’s, creative hands have put their own mark on this Canadian dish. If you’re in Toronto, you will find “Poutine Shops” all over the city and many restaurants who carry their own unique take. From lobster to foie gras, there are so many versions, it could be a challenge to just choose one. If you’ve never had it, just go simple with just cheese curds and gravy on your nicely deep fried fries.
In Toronto, there are no shortages of places to find your poutine fix but the condition that I place on this dish from Quebec is to only recommend places that use some kind of animal fat to deep fry their frites. Sorry my vegetarian friends…
I am constantly tempted by this place as I’m always walking by it on my Kensington Market International Food Tour. I love this place and having Belgium style fries (frites) where they cook their fries in beef fat (beef tallow to be exact). It’s the place I recommend to all my food tour guests if they have not had poutine and are not going to be Quebec in the near future.
Another hot destination for all things fries but it is the “duck confit” that needs to be sought after. If you don’t know why then you haven’t had fries deep-fried in duck fat before. There is a limited supply of this delicious goodness and you do pay a premium for the pleasure but once you have it, you will discover why this is by far, the best way to get your fries and eat it too! Topped with cheese and gravy, there are few places in Toronto that compare to the goodness of poutine in our city like this legit location.
2. Peameal Bacon (Canadian Bacon)
Canadians love their bacon but what the world has come to know as “Canadian bacon” is something that every visitor should try once. Peameal bacon is the “back bacon” from the pork loin. The reason why it is called “peameal” is because boneless pork loin would be rolled in dry ground yellow peas after it has been dried. This was done for preservation purposes. The most popular way of eating peameal bacon is having it with your for breakfast accompanied by eggs and hashbrowns. The best way to have it is in a bun and eat it as a sandwich with some good mustard. By the way, Canada supplies over 75% of the global supply of mustard.
For my recommendation for this place, there is really one place that is on the top of the list and it is located in the historic St. Lawrence Market:
Carousel Bakery: This is an iconic establishment has been at St. Lawrence Market for over 30 years and been serving up their “World Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich” to locals and visitors alike. The sandwich here has been a must even for celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. They do serve other things but if you have only one trip, this is the place to go!
3. Hawaiian Pizza
Most would be confused to learn that the pizza with ham and pineapples was born in Canada. The now-famous “Hawaiian pizza” was born in the most unlikely of places. A restaurant owner in a small town in Ontario called Chatham came up with the combo back in that 1960’s. Sorry Hawaii but this Polynesian influenced pizza did not come from the land of Aloha.
4. Pizza Sushi (aka Sushi Pizza)
There is some debate as to where this take on sushi came from but we can definitively say that it is a Canadian creation of the beloved Japanese delicacy. Essentially, it is a hamburger bun size patty of rice that is then deep fried where the outside is crispy. You can have various toppings but usually, you will find it with either raw salmon or tuna or both. Another topping that is popular is a barbecued eel. The pizza sushi will often come with a spicy mayo but you can find various toppings depending on where you go. It’s a delicious way for people to have sushi and this Canadian creation has become a favourite in Toronto and throughout the country.
Hard to recommend a spot for this place as I’ve had pizza sushi in so many places and they are generally pretty good and for Toronto, quite unique. However, I’m happy to share the place that I first had this twist of the pizza and curveball to sushi: Sushi Inn located in the heart of Yorkville. Back in 2000, I was visiting a friend and they ordered take-out and introduced me to this strange creation and from then on, this was a treat that I often craved so kudos to the place that started it all for me!
5. Split Pea Soup
Born in Quebec, same place as poutine, this famous soup has its roots in Canada. The anchor of this soup is the ham bone with a base that consists of dried yellow split peas. Most Canadians probably don’t know that this wonderful and comforting soup comes from their homeland. This could potentially be the greatest export Canada has given to the world. There really isn’t a better way to warm up in the cold Canadian winter than with a bowl of hot and thick split pea soup.
6. Butter Tarts
If there is something definitively sweet that comes from Canada, you don’t have to look much further than the butter tart. This delightful dessert is small and wonderfully delicious. There is nothing here that would be anything less than indulgent. A pastry shell that is filled in with sugary goodness. Don’t be surprised to see these delectables with raisins or nuts. It’s sticky, its sweet and all good!
7. Nanaimo Bars
A no-bake dessert bar is a staple in many office parties or catered events. This truly Canadian treat comes from the town of Nanaimo, British Columbia and typically made with a mix of graham cracker crumbs, vanilla custard, chocolate, coconuts and walnuts. You may find other versions that have peanut butter and even with chocolate mint. Any way you have it, it is a very unique treat and all Canadian.
8. Ketchup Chips
If there is a snack that is distinctly Canadian, you don’t have to look much further than your local convenience store and grab yourself a bag of ketchup chips. I’ve heard it said that the most missed snack that Canadians wished they had when they move to another country is this salty and savoury potato chip. Have some wet naps close by as you because when you’re finished, your fingers with be dyed red.
9. Kraft Dinner
Kraft, the monster global company has a Canadian staple: Kraft dinner. Some would even say that it is a “quasi” national dish. To Americans, it is known as just mac & cheese which is short for macaroni with cheese. Canadians eat more of this than anywhere in the world and it may very well be the most purchased item bought from our supermarkets. It really is a cheap meal and it is a simple macaroni and cheese, however, when you can buy a box for as little as $0.99, how can anyone really go wrong with that? There are microwavable versions of Kraft Dinner but no self-respecting Canadian would do that if they have the time to do it on a stove top.
10. Maple Syrup
Accounting for more than 75% of the world’s supply, Canada is a powerhouse in this delicious compliment to your pancakes or waffles. Maple syrup can be found in all sorts of things in Canada. From maple bacon, maple doughnuts, maple latte and maple cookies. There is no shortage of ways Canadians use maple syrup. This is probably one of the most popular items to give as gifts when Canadians travel outside of Canada and one of the most popular amongst tourists who visit and take back home.
Canada is not Canada without recognizing the ever-changing landscape of its people. In Toronto, more than 50% of its residents were born outside of Canada so having something that is essentially “Canadian” will continue to change. We are a country of immigrants who bring their influences into the culinary scene. However, I am delighted to know that there is an emergence of our Indigenous community who are showcasing flavours that have been on this land generations before European settlers arrived. Have your poutine and indulge in your peameal bacon sandwich but don’t forget, before that even existed, there are people who call Canada home have a history here that has been serving up the fare to their families and communities for thousands of years before Europeans set foot on this land.
Till next time my Chronicfoodie friends…
Jusep, the Chronicfoodie
Chopsticks+Forks is a Toronto Food Tour company that celebrates the great ethnic diversity of Toronto by taking guests on food adventures tasting the flavours of the world, one delicious bite at a time.