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Feb 12, 2005 03:40 PM

Oh Canada!

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What is Canadian food? Can anyone share recipes that everyone in Canada would recognize as Canadian? Baking recipes would be especially nice.

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  1. Nanaimo bar is a quintessential Canadian baked dessert. There must be recipes around - google?

    1. I spent my HS days in a town in NY State about an hour south of Montreal. You can Google for some of these recipes. They are dishes I relate to Quebec.

      Habitant Pea Soup. Made with yellow peas, bacon and sometimes a bit of lard to add flavor and mouth feel. Tourtiere, a dense meat pie, rich flaky top and bottom crust filled with ground pork and warm spices. Often served by the slice and topped with gravy. Cretons, the Quebec version of rillettes. Poutine, french fries topped with crumbled cheese curd and gravy. Dumplings boiled in maple syrup and served with cold heavy cream.
      These are all dishes I remember fondly.

      Canada is big and there are going to be diffrences from the Atlantic to the Pacific and all stopd in between. What you ask for is like asking for American dishes but not specifying from which part of the US.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Indeed those are all dishes indicative of the cuisine common in regional Quebec...I have never in my life eaten Habitant Pea Soup, Cretons, Dumplings cooked in Maple Syrup, Tourtiere or Poutine. Poutine is ubiquitous all over the country now, but it too has it's origins in Quebec and has only spread in the last couple of years. The only baked thing that I can think of that is completely and totally created in Canada is the Nanaimo Bar, created by Susan Mendelson from the Lazy Gourmet in Vancouver. It is a graham wafer/cocoa/coconut crust filled with a sweet icing type filling and topped with chocolate. The essential ingredient is Bird's Custard Powder. I have a dozen or more recipes if you would like me to email you some.

        I was born and raised here in British Columbia, and it is entirely true that while we do have some regional foods common to the area, the same would be true of the US...basically we eat the same things that you eat. There is regional food, cultural food, etc, just like in the US. If you are looking for something specific, like for an event or something, I collect community cookbooks of the type where women from a group or a church submit recipes, and I would be happy to pass things on if you can point me in a direction. I have some going back to the 1940's, so let me know :-)

        1. re: Cyndy

          I am a Canadian living in Toronto. Real 'Canadian' food is a topic of some discussion up here as Asian fusion and 'ethnic' restaurants have become the lion's share of fine dining around here. Outside of the major city centre (with the exception of farmer's markets where the country visits the city), generally, is where you find 'non-ethnic' foods. Hamburgers, fried chicken, roast beef, etc. A mishmash of American, British, and 'Continental'. There is lots of this stuff in the city... but it tends to be fast food or diner style.

          Very few 'Canadian' restos exist because 1) Although there are many examples of Canadian food - it's not all that interesting ;-) and 2) People these days would not know what to expect!

          Here's a shortlist:
          -Butter Tarts (with or without raisins and pecans)
          -Donair (Eastern Canadian, like a Greek Gyros served on a pita with sweet sauce. Not my fave)
          -Back Bacon anything. Back bacon on an English muffin is pretty typical at most markets
          -Habitant pea soup (comes in a can, the company is Habitant) with ham and yes, lard
          -Pancakes with maple syrup (from Quebec, of course!)
          -Bannock (a simple dough made by early settlers and still made at summer camps across the country)
          -Tortiere - clove spiked ground meat pie from Quebec

          These are the most typical 'inland' specialties. Of course, if you go to either coast you can get into a deluge of seafood dishes.

          Each city also has their own selection of local inventions - just like the US.

          So if I was hosting an American food party, what would I serve? Here's one Canuck's perspective:

          Fried Chicken and biscuits
          Hot Dogs
          Cajun anything
          BBQ ribs
          Cheese pizza
          Apple Pie

          Americans - what am I missing??!

          1. re: Shiro Miso

            Baked Beans
            Chocolate Cake
            Coconut Cake
            Softshell crabs (sandwiches are great too)
            Lobster Rolls
            Clam Chowder (Nw England and Manhattan)
            Cheesesteak Sandwiches
            Subs, Grinders, Italian Sandwiches
            Tri Tip
            Santa Maria Beans
            English Muffins
            Corn Bread
            Bread Pudding
            I could keep going but I'm sure that there are others who would like to put in thier 2 cents worth.

            1. re: Candy

              Weren't burgers invented in Hamburg, Germany? I could be wrong... of course they are probably eaten in the US more than anyplace else.

              I can't believe I didn't think of succotash! ;-)

            2. re: Shiro Miso

              Hot dogs? Um, well... is this a superbowl party?
              Aren't cajuns called cajuns cause they're orig immigrated from acadia? Shouldn't you be making some wonderful, spicy canadian food?
              'Although there are many examples of Canadian food - it's not all that interesting ;-)' It is, it is.
              For your american food party (insted of pizza) How about chowder and cioppino, boiled dinner and simmered greens, succotash and hoppin john, chicken pie and tetrazzini, and cornbread and salt rising bread, and strawberry shortcake and toll house cookies, shaker tart and shoo fly pie, a grunt a slump and an indian pudding (sounds like a nursery rhyme).

              1. re: Sweeties

                Hmmm... when they left for the South they took the spices with them! I can't think of any spicy Canadian specialties... with the possible exception of the cloves in the aforementioned tortiere.

                1. re: Sweeties

                  The only Canadian "Acadienne" (those who stayed behind when the Cajuns-to-be left) specialty I know of is Rappie pie (or something like that), it is simply grated potato and chicken with no spicing to speak of! I can confirm that people do make this, although I don't think it's easy to find in a restaurant, I've had it at a catered Acadian wedding.


              2. re: Cyndy

                Thanks for the generous offer but I generally like and am kind of hoping to find something maybe from an author/cook with a voice of his/her own and some kind of view on his/her natl cuisine which will inspire me to cook from it. I was trolling amazon canada; Have you heard of a book called 'Nothing More Comforting' by Dorothy Duncan? What do you think of it?

            3. If you know of any books that would be good too. Old fashioned Canadian home cooking or baking not the latest, sleekest, fusion, nouveau whatever.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Sweeties

                Here's a bit of what you are looking for, eh? If you can get the ingredients, try the Saskatoon Pie.


                1. re: brookmonton

                  Interesting list but the only thing that strikes me as Canadian as opposed to regional or random are the butter tarts. And maybe those are regional too and I just don't know it.

                2. re: Sweeties

                  They just re-issued a cookbook by Kate Aitken on Canadian Cooking. Fabulous recipe for butter tarts. Amazon is your friend ;-)

                3. Voila!

                  (There is a version in English too, but I don't have it bookmarked.)


                  1. For more on Quebec you might see if you can find any cookbooks by Jehane Benoit. They may be out of print. She was quite an autority of cooking in Quebec. If you Google her name you can find a number of recipes attributed to her.