What is “Canadian” food anyways?!

6 Jul

To help you keep celebrating Canada Day, the three gourmandes will give their take on what they consider to be “Canadian” food. We know this will be a hotly debated issue, so we would love your input! We will share some tweets and comments that we get on the subject in this post.

To start things off, we tweeted Chuck Hughes (our favourite Canadian beef-cake chef) when he was in town:

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 9.32.28 AM

Cherry: What I view as “Canadian” food has a lot to do with where my family is from – in Canada. Both my parents are natives of Québec. As were their parents. And their parents’ parents… and well, most of my family has been here for a really long time. At Christmas we eat Tortière (traditional meat pie) and tarte au sucre! When we celebrated Easter in Montréal, we would go to  les Cabanes à Sucre and eat ham and beans covered in maple syrup! I would put maple syrup on mostly everything. One of my favourite desserts is vanilla ice cream covered in maple syrup. Yet, with all this maple syrup infused goodness in my life, I grew up, outside of la Belle Province, in Scarborough. I was one of the only «frenchies» at a French immersion school, where instead of PB&J, there were a lot of sticky rice buns and curries for lunch. When my family ate out it was at the Greek’s place down the street, and we ate Chinese buns for breakfast. In grade 5, I proclaimed my favourite food to be Armenian pizza (from Arz Bakery!). It was very much an Old World meets New World foodie experience growing up, even if I didn’t view it that way at the time. It just was what it was. Children can easily accept change and difference, and if we expose Canadian children to a greater variety in food, then they are more likely to accept that all food made in Canada is «Canadian».

Clementine: Canadian cuisine like the nation’s identity is complex. When we imagine “Canadian” food, images of maple syrup, poutine, and peameal bacon come to mind instantly. I’ve also been told by a professor that the only true Canadian dish is ginger beef (created in Calgary). Butter tarts and nanaimo bars (Montreal bagels) don’t get nearly as much attention … unless you belong to the middle age – elderly cohorts. It strikes me how fashionable all of these items have become in recent years. When chefs include a poutinerie on their menu, I wonder whether they understand that they are helping mould a very specific version of Canadian food history. Or, as the cynical side of me would say, this all a cash grab and restauranteurs have tapped into the trendy food movement of the moment. If we move away from these stereotypical Canadian dishes and consider their components, maybe “Canadian” food is all about fresh local ingredients. Southern Ontario is famed for its pork. We have wineries in Niagara. We have dairies and wheat farmers in Kitchener and Waterloo. We have exquisite seafood on both the west and east coast. In this way, I guess it’s not really that complex only, as Chuck said, that we’re lucky to be surrounded by plenty and deliciousness.

And Alice will leave you with a recipe for a YYZ Gourmand original, the ULTIMATE Canadian cocktail:

Coureur de Bois Cocktail

You will need…

1)      six to eight strips of good quality smoked bacon

2)      A micky of Canadian Club

3)      Fine sieve or coffee filter

4)      Apple cider

5)      Maple syrup

6)      Ice

Fry up that  bacon.  Cool on paper towels and watch 10 episodes of Heritage Minutes.

Put the bacon strips into a freezer-safe plastic or glass container with a lid.   Pour a micky of Canadian Club into the Tupperware container.  Seal and tuck into the freezer.  Wait one hockey night.

Pull the container out of the freezer.  Pick out the bacon like a BC bear picks out salmon from a stream.

Pour the liquor through a fine sieve to filter out the congealed bacon fat.

Take a jigger of your new bacon-infused rye, three jiggers of apple cider, and drizzle of good maple syrup.  Serve on the rocks.


The Great Canadian Blog Bash

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