If you’re used to living in a metropolitan Canadian city, you’re probably accustomed to all the incredible fusion cooking and diversity of flavours.
After all, the melting pot nature of our food scene is partly the reason Vogue declared Toronto a foodie hotspot back in March.
So it’s easy to forget that Canada has been behind plenty of its own culinary innovations. From poutine to the classic Caesar, we’re quite the pioneers when it comes to pigging out.
Here are 12 dishes that prove that Canada isn’t all maple syrup and KD.
Montreal – Bagels (and smoked meat)
Handmade, wood-fired, and smelling heavenly, the Montreal bagel contains malt, egg, and is boiled in water sweetened with honey before being baked. Not to be confused with the New York bagel, they are denser and smaller than their Big Apple counterparts, and have a larger hole. In many eateries patrons can watch the bagels being made – and why not add some Montreal-style smoked meat to top things off?
Quebec – Poutine
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Quebec and the humble poutine have plenty of admirers. Thought to have originated in rural Quebec in the 1950s, French fries and cheese curds covered in gravy have spawned numerous copycats and undergone reincarnations with endless twists on the classic formula.
Calgary – Caesar
Invented back in 1969 by manager, Walter Chell, the Caesar came to light as a signature drink for the Calgary Inn’s new Italian restaurant. Inspired by the Venetian vongole pasta sauce, which combines tomato and clam juice, he added vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and the rest as they say is history. The spicy drink, which is often served with a celery stalk, is now enjoyed all over Canada and the world.
Toronto – Peameal Bacon Sandwich
If you’ve ever been to the St. Lawrence market, you’ve no doubt sampled the world-famous peameal bacon. The back bacon is a lean cut of pork that’s rolled in cornmeal (which gives it the yummy breaded edges) and is generally served with a slice of cheese, tomato and maybe a fried egg.
Ottawa – Beaver Tail
This Canadian pastry chain was launched in Killaloe back in 1978 by Grant and Pam Hooker and opened its first permanent store two years later. The fried dough is stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail, then adorned with toppings like Nutella, whipped cream, and Oreos. Even President Barack Obama was unable to resist its charms when he visited Ottawa back in 2009 at the ByWard Market.
Vancouver – Japadog
Although Vancity may be known for its truly enviable culinary scene, it doesn’t have an iconic dish that dates back to bygone days. Celebrated for its B.C salmon and incredible sushi, Vancouver has a lot to offer a foodie. But Japadog takes the local gastronomic crown, which has seven food trucks since opening in 2005 and serving Japanese-style hot dogs, like the signature Terimayo with teriyaki, mayo and seaweed.
Thunder Bay – Persians
The oval-shaped cinnamon bun was originally native to Port Arthur, Ontario. When it was amalgamated with Fort William to form Thunder Bay, it became the latter’s honour alone. The bun has pink icing, which is made of either raspberries or strawberries, and Bennett’s Bakery is credited with making the first pastry.
Windsor – Canadian Club
Although Hiram Walker originally founded his distillery in Detroit in 1858, he decided to hotfoot it over the bridge to Windsor when prohibition gathered speed – legendary Chicagoan gangster Al Capone smuggled thousands of cases between the two border cities. It’s here in Walkerville where CC is still in production to this very day.
Edmonton – Boston Pizza
Its recent accolade in Conde Nast put Edmonton on the pizza map thanks to its selection of unpretentious and delicious offerings. With a ton of classic joints like Tony’ Pizza Palace, Packrat Louie, and Rose Bowl, Edmonton made it to eighth on the list of the world’s top cities to grab a slice. Plus, Boston Pizza was created here when Gus Agioritis opened the first restaurant back in 1964.
Nanaimo – Nanaimo bars
The eponymous dessert bar dates back to 1953, when it was mentioned in the Edith Adams’ prize cookbook. Other unconfirmed sources claim it was around even earlier, going by the moniker “chocolate fridge cake” in the 1930s. “Canada’s favourite confection” requires no baking and consists of a wafer crumb base, topped with custard flavoured butter icing, covered with melted chocolate.
Donair – Halifax
This variation on the classic Doner kebab was created in the 1970s when Peter Gamoulakos immigrated to Canada and failed to charm the locals with his traditional gyros. Undiscouraged, he subbed out beef for lamb, created a sweet milk sauce, and the fine people of Halifax have been eating the Nova Scotian Donair ever since.
Grape-Nut Ice Cream – Wolfville
This breakfast cereal from Kelloggs became a popular snack in the Maritimes after a chef at The Palms restaurant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia created the flavour when she ran out of fresh fruit to add to the ice cream. After it surged in popularity, Scotsburn Dairy mass-produced the flavour and sold it across the region.