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Oh Canada

Canada Day is around the corner. Am wondering what is an iconic Canadian recipe to you, where did your recipe originate from, and when and for what occasion do you make it?
I had a lobster roll in PEI and think this is quite an iconic Canadian recipe.

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  1. Back bacon on a bun with maple mustard. If made with good quality peameal and a fresh kaiser, it's delicious.

    1 Reply
    1. Well, I think that the people in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and the US North Atlantic coast might debate whether the PEI lobster roll is iconically Canadian.

      Our cuisine is very regional and I really can't think of something that would be embraced across the country, though I'm certain someone will nominate Nanaimo bars, poutine, back/peameal bacon, tourtiere, smoked meat, bagels, Saskatoon berry products, the donut, and butter tarts.

      You also appear to be in Montreal, so what are we known for? Smoked meat, foie gras, poutine, tourtiere, syrup products, drinking…

      2 Replies
      1. re: wattacetti

        What is Montreal known for? Montreal bagels for one, and for me the smoked meat and great restaurant food.
        My family is from Newfoundland so a boiled dinner, including the pudding represents that part of the country.

        1. re: wattacetti

          I had many of the same in mind

          Also: tarte au sucre, Sucre à la Crème, bison meat. bannock, maple planked west coast salmon, caesars, ginger beef (haha), Arctic char, ice wine, pickerel, elk...

        2. Back bacon then donuts and a rack of beers while watching a "Strange Brew" marathon!! Beauty, eh?

          3 Replies
          1. re: PotatoHouse

            That's quite a combo...they all seem to pair well together.

            1. For me, it's cretons, that pork laden spread that my nana and mom would serve to me on good crackers or bread. Because of their Canadian origins (QC and Tignish, PEI), a lot of French Canadian foods are "it" for me. So cretons would be followed by tourtiere, and boudin (their term for "black pudding" or blood sausage).

              Very simple, rich, homey and lovely fare.

              5 Replies
              1. re: pinehurst

                My husband is French Canadian. His Mom would make a traditional reveillon, pea soup, was always on the menu. Do you make your own cretons, I use a recipe from Jehane Benoit.

                1. re: Ruthie789

                  You know what, I don't, and shame on me. My nana and mom did, but I buy it from a market in Methuen, Massachusetts called Thwaites. They have mostly British specialties (ironically :-) like pot pies and bangers) but also boudin, cretons, tourtiere, etc.

                  I should really try making it from scratch.

                  And yes, pea soup!! Sadly, I am the only one in my entire family that will eat it now. Such unadventurous eaters, my in-laws.

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    Pinehurst the cretons are so easy, meat, diced onion, spices and breadcrumbs boiled together and potted. I will post the recipe for you later tonight.

                2. re: pinehurst

                  pinehurst, boudin is the normal name in French for black pudding, whether in France, Québec, Acadia and elsewhere, though the more hot-country varieties in Louisiana and the French+Créole speaking Caribbean (Haiti, and the French départements of Martinique and Guadeloupe) are somewhat different.

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    Tignish!?? We just got back from vacationing there. Some of the local stuff we ate this trip:
                    -Lobster paste
                    -Bottled lobster (basically preserved in brine in a mason jar, delicious)
                    -Galettes with wild strawberry jam
                    -Tourtiere

                    My mom and grandmother used to make rapure and fricot a lot, and it's still popular in that region.

                  2. Poutine? I'm not Canadian and I've never made it, but when I think of "canadian food" that's the first thing I think of.

                    And, now I have the Canadian National Anthem in my head. They sing it at hockey games if the visiting team is from Canada so now I know it.

                    34 Replies
                    1. re: juliejulez

                      Poutine reminds me of something we get in the fish n chip shops back home (UK), except in Canada they use cheese curds and the UK is usually cheddar. Not that I care for it in either country.

                      1. re: Musie

                        The bar we go to here in Colorado makes it with cheddar, and I actually like it after I've had a beer or two :)

                        1. re: juliejulez

                          It must be good with beer. Our local hotdog stands sell it with a combo, hot dog, and drink. I would only recommend this on a Friday for lunch, lethargy sets in afterwards.

                        2. re: Musie

                          I'm trying to think of what might be available in a UK chippy that might resemble poutine. Gravy, yes. But with cheese?? Certainly nothing I've ever come across in eating in north west England chippies for nigh on 55 years. Maybe something from a specific UK region, Musie?

                          (EDIT: I see Google turns up "chips, cheese and gravy" as being popular in the Isle of Man)

                          1. re: Harters

                            I've seen chips with gravy and cheese on the menu in a few Southwest chippy's. One place was a chip shop tucked away in Plymouth along a residential street. And I think I've seen it up in Leicester too (but I'm fuzzy on that since it was quite a few years ago).

                            1. re: Harters

                              My son had a Canadian party a few years ago in London. Made the chips and gravy, as usual. Then used very coarsely shredded young cheddar to top. Cheese curds are the most rubbery, unaged stage of cheddar cheese so if you can find a cheddar or some other type of mild cheese, it would do the trick.

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                I am astounded how poutine has made it across the pond. The curds are unripened cheese perhaps that might also help with an equivalent.

                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                  Makes me wonder if it's going to be an entirely co-incidental British creation or if there's a Canadian influence - perhaps dating back to troops being stationed in the UK during one or both of the World Wars.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    The poutine-making son is Canadian, and was just visiting London. I can't remember what the occasion was that they decided to celebrate - two Canadians and umpteen Londoners - but they also made apple pie and something else that I can't remember. One of the natives has spent a good bit of time in Canada so was already inducted into the secret poutine society prior to this party.

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Poutine in Canada from my understanding started in the Saguenay region of Quebec. It is known to be of Quebec origin dating back to what year I am not sure.

                                      1. re: Ruthie789

                                        My dad brought cheese curds home from Sprouts all excited and said " Iook i can make poutine" He had it as a kid every summer when his family vacationed in Canada.. now I do not know how authentic his was... but ohhhhhh it was yummmmmy

                                        1. re: girloftheworld

                                          Cheese curds are the best option for poutine. Other cheeses get to stringy or the fat separates out of them when combined with the gravy and hot fries.

                                        2. re: Ruthie789

                                          Tell that to people in Drummondville or victoriaville. They both claim poutine and they are far away from the Saguenay. Stands to reason...cheese curds are more of a Coeur de Quebec thing than in the Sagenuay.

                                          1. re: williej

                                            You are probably right about the origin williej. I had seen a show about poutine years ago I may have gotten confused about place of origin.

                                          2. re: Ruthie789

                                            It wasn't known at all in most parts of Canada until quite recently. Chips with gravy, yes. It drives me crazy when Americans think it's the be-all and end-all of Canadian food.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              I agree with you the best of Canadian food equated to Poutine. Martin Picard is to blame, serving it up with foie gras! So BT what is the best Canadian food?

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                Yes, I don't remember it when I was growing up in Wpg in the 80s and 90s..

                                                1. re: rstuart

                                                  It was definitely around -- at least in Ontario and Quebec -- in the 1990s.

                                              2. re: Ruthie789

                                                No, it comes from a region between Québec City and Montréal, on the south shore of the St-Lawrence. And is fairly recent, and "snack-bar"ish in origin.

                                                The Saguenay and Lac St-Jean have a lot more wild game.

                                              3. re: Harters

                                                According to several sources, poutine was invented only in the late 1950s.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  Here is a Canadian perspective on the poutine or chips and curds trend in England:
                                                  http://www.montrealgazette.com/travel...

                                        3. re: juliejulez

                                          I'm from Montréal and hate poutine. Waste of good frites! Though fine if people like it.

                                          1. re: lagatta

                                            As a fellow poutine hater, I think you might enjoy "The Embarrassment of Poutine" on this page:
                                            http://www.montrealpoutine.com/histor...

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                Yes, it was good, and also well-researched. Though I don't hate poutine because it is downmarket; I hate it because I absolutely love good frites and rarely indulge in them, and to my mind poutine wastes them, as they are no longer crisp.

                                                Occasionally I'd indulge in a cone of Frite Alors! frites from Jean-Talon Market, but now their stand has closed, because there is a full-service branch on rue Villeray a couple of streets north of the Market, but too far to get the frites home hot, as I now live south of JTM. But they are very close to Parc Jarry, so I'll get some when I want a treat and go eat them in the Park...

                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                  That's my issue, I hate anything deep-fried that has wet ingredients on top of it.

                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                    All these threads on frites makes me think of an article that I read on PEI potato farmers and their present plight article below:
                                                    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/n...

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        Yes it is horrible, I try to buy PEI potatoes but they are not always the star in the grocery aisle anymore.

                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                          Please don't tell me that US spuds are on sale there...there's nothing like a PEI or NB potato.

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            Well we are seeing all sorts of potatoes. Quebec potatoes promoting the buy local movement and Idaho potatoes and various types of potatoes from all over the place. I've been to PEI and just remember the potato stands with payment stands based on trust, take a bag, leave the money. I feel sad and sorry for the plight of these dedicated farmers.

                                                      2. re: Ruthie789

                                                        It is shocking. This winter IGA here had a promotion on 10lb of excellent-quality PEI potatoes for $1.99. It seemed clear to me that this was below cost. (I bought them anyway, because not buying them certainly wouldn't have helped the farmer).

                                                        There is a similar problem with lobster and crab fishermen. Those have become absurdly cheap.

                                                      3. re: lagatta

                                                        Gravy on fries has been an American diner thing for decades. I too prefer my fries without gravy.

                                              2. A simple supper of lobster (boiled I believe) and served un-cracked with dinner rolls that resemble brioche. This is iconic to me as it is what my in-laws set up for me on my first trip across the pond to Canada. It's not something I make personally, but it is what my mother in law does. The lobsters are caught by the FIL, cooked by the MIL and enjoyed usually when there is a big crowd to feed or special visitors.

                                                My MIL also makes unbelievably good lobster dip, usually prepared for NYE, but she made it last October for my parents when they visited.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Musie

                                                  Fresh lobster is available in grocery stores right now. So good.

                                                  1. re: Musie

                                                    Could you elaborate on lobster dip?

                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                      I had the very same thought Melpy. After doing a simple Google search here's what I thought were the most... um... appealing:

                                                      This recipe supposedly comes from a smack-down between 2 football teams, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.
                                                      From the kitchen of New England Patriots:
                                                      http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe?id=6...

                                                      This one is from Maine and served in a bread bowl which elevates the calorie count...
                                                      http://www.fromaway.com/cooking/class...

                                                      This is by Canadian Recipes:
                                                      http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/lobster-di...

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        It's mostly lobster mixed with mayo (I think) and some seasoning. My MIL serves it with crackers. I wish I could say more but I've never been able to successfully recreate it.

                                                    2. Being from the West Coast, I'd go with a whole barbecued salmon, with my Dad's stuffing recipe. Best made after someone phones you up and says "We got an extra salmon fishing today - want it?" and brings over a not yet cleaned fish.

                                                      I would serve it with local new potatoes, done in foil on the barbecue with butter and fresh herbs, a salad of freshly picked new lettuce with a green onion cream dressing (home-made), fresh, local corn on the cob, doused in butter, salt and pepper. Homemade pie for dessert, from local fruit, preferably sour cherry pie served still warm with vanilla ice cream (or, depending on season, cake topped with rhubarb and cream).

                                                      All washed down with a local beer.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                        We lived in Northern Quebec, nothing beats really fresh fish.

                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                          In more northern Québec, doré (I think that is walleye in English) and ouananiche (which I see is a smaller, fresh-water salmon) are among the nicest fish, caught in very clean water (unless there is some horrible chemical plant or mine upstream).

                                                          Farther north still, you will find the Arctic Char...

                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                            We had fish every Friday, freshly caught by our neighbour across the street and yes think we did have the two you mentionned. Coming home from school there it would be the catch of the day in the kitchen sink waiting to be gutted, scaled and my Mom was an ace at it. Sometimes our neighbour would give us smoked, salted dried cod, which we would boil, It was all good.

                                                      2. I love nanaimo bars. I originally found the recipe in an old Canadian cookbook many years ago. And I make them whenever I want a sweet and delicious dessert bar, other than brownies or lemon.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: critter101

                                                          Squares and bars especially Nanaimo bars are always so good especially with tea.

                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                            Though I'm not a dessert lover, a strawberry shortcake is both seasonal and red and white, the colours of our flag. As a child, Canada Day dinners were undoubtedly barbecued and eaten outside, so grilled chicken, grilled fish, grilled veggies, burgers or steaks, watermelon and feta salad (same red and white theme), potato salad (I like the European oil and vinegar version, rather than the mayo type), and possibly corn on the cob (if it's been a warm and sunny spring).

                                                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                              We often had Canada Day Picnics, with a standing ovation to the National Anthem singing in family unison, usually mid-way in the party. (some were happy campers!)

                                                        2. Being from Alberta, it's gotta be beef. A big juicy steak on the bbq screams Canada Day to me!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. Moose ribs finished on the bbq, salmon chowder, and cloudberries for dessert.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: yaneidi

                                                              Sounds delicious. Chowders are very Canadian from East to West.

                                                                1. re: rjbh20

                                                                  A Canadian grade ale is called for if you want to add that eh at the end of that phrase! Canadian beer now that's iconic isn't it?

                                                                  1. re: rjbh20

                                                                    Weirdly enough, I've never seen back bacon in the supermarkets in my area and none of the restaurants serve it. It's always streaky bacon.

                                                                    1. re: Musie

                                                                      Really? Where do you live? Not even on eggs benny?

                                                                      1. re: cleopatra999

                                                                        Southeast NB. Chances are if I headed to an area with a larger more metropolitan population, back bacon would be in stores and restaurants. I can't recall seeing eggs benedict on the menu anywhere either, but then there are no restaurants that show much in the way of food diversity either, it's all extremely basic. Come to think of it, I don't recall ever seeing even a simple poached egg on a breakfast menu in this area.

                                                                  2. I would have to add blueberry pie/cobbler and sugar pie.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. The most prevalent Canadian food according to the Walrus is Kraft macaroni and cheese. It is the Canadian equivalent of America's pizza. Kraft originated on both sides of the border and living 300 yards from the border I will attest to the fact that although products may have similar names and appearance even the ubiquitous macaroni and cheese is different depending on country of origin. I grew up with Kraft Canada products and never got used to the taste, texture or colours of Kraft's American cousins and would never dream of putting American Philadelphia on a fresh Montreal bagel.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Moedelestrie

                                                                        We all agree at work that KD is delicious, think you have a valid point.

                                                                      2. Date squares
                                                                        Tourtiere
                                                                        Sugar Pie
                                                                        Nanaimo bars
                                                                        Poutine
                                                                        Fresh fish and game
                                                                        A Caesar (or 3)
                                                                        Ice Wine
                                                                        Anything Maple
                                                                        Doughnuts!

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: pavlova

                                                                          I make date squares at least once a month. Think Canadians like to make squares, wonder why?

                                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                            I made date squares the other day and no one tried one, so not a taste issue. It is definitely old fashioned and kids just don't like them.

                                                                            1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                              I wouldn't go near them as a kid either and they were my dad's favourite so we always had a pan on the go. They just looked gross to me then: beige/brown and hairy-looking dates. Now, they are my favourite. Guess I'm all grown up!

                                                                              1. re: Gloriaa

                                                                                You could freeze them, they do freeze well. I make a large batch for my father-in-law as he loves them.

                                                                              2. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                They are called Matrimonial squares in Saskatchewan as they are served at wedding banquets. Along with jellied salad of course.

                                                                                By the way, THE Canadian dessert is saskatoon berry pie with wild berries, not the tasteless cultivated kind.

                                                                                1. re: williej

                                                                                  I have never had Saskatoon berry pie to my knowledge, have not seen this berry in the farmer's market in Quebec. I am sure it is very good.

                                                                                  1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                    They are called service berries in eastern Canada, well, east of Kenora.

                                                                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                      Last summer Loblaws (here in Ont) carried them in season, early July IIRC. It was the first time I remember seeing them in a grocery store.

                                                                              3. My supervisor misses her buttertarts. I was thinking of making her a small batch (did I mention that I'm the world's worst baker?). She was thrilled to find that Canada Day is also my anniversary.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                  Go for it! Your supervisor will be thrilled. Always wanted to try butter tarts. Especially after hearing about them (and other cool Canadian-isms!) on my favorite comic strip:

                                                                                  http://catalog.fborfw.com/indexid.php...

                                                                                    1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                                                                      I did make her some gringo buttertarts and luckily she was in on Saturday morning instead of Sunday night -- so she got them fairly fresh. They weren't anything near authentic but she grinned and ate two right off. :)

                                                                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                        I'm sure she absolutely loved them. So sweet of you. Were they easy to make? :)

                                                                                  1. Oatcakes are a favorite memory of my visit to Cape Breton about 15 years ago. I have this recipe pinned, but have yet to make it as I am baking-impaired.
                                                                                    http://www.travelerslunchbox.com/jour...

                                                                                    1. Cedar planked salmon with a maple glaze
                                                                                      Strawberry shortcake
                                                                                      Butter tarts
                                                                                      And a good cold lager.

                                                                                      :)

                                                                                      1. Geez, I almost forgot about a major Canadian icon: the pierogi. It's not evident in Atlantic Canada, but it's a staple from northern Ontario through the prairies.

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: jammy

                                                                                          From one south of the border, what immediately comes to mind is Canadian Club and Molsen's.

                                                                                          1. re: jammy

                                                                                            Yes.. perogies are very important in the prairies.. I was actually thinking it probably wasn't normal everywhere in Canada to have a perogie section in the freezers in the grocery store!

                                                                                            1. re: rstuart

                                                                                              You can get them in the freezer section in Montreal.

                                                                                              1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                They have them in the freezer section in NB too... although, only 1 or 2 brands, not enough to fill up a section though!

                                                                                                1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                  Another summertime prairie staple--roll kuchen and watermelon! None of that dainty seedless stuff, either, but one of those twenty pounders that's almost equally spotted with black and pink.
                                                                                                  Ooh, and sometimes with damson plum jam for smearing on the dough knots.

                                                                                                    1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                      I'm in Winnipeg...the Mennonite influence abounds!

                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                        More, please of your recipes, sounds delicious.

                                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                          That's where I grew up Allegra.. in Wolseley.. (when it was much cheaper!).

                                                                                                2. Wiser's whisky, Labatt's 50 and Molson Ex...

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                        Octoberfest in London Ontario, fun, fun, fun.

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      Crown royal, even its bottle design is Canadian.

                                                                                                      1. re: Musie

                                                                                                        My dad loved Crown Royal. (The undertaker had put his cremated remains, which were buried next to my mom's, in a red velvet bag. I had him change it to blue. My dad would have approved.)

                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                          That is great Buttertart. I recall my grandparents had a crown royal bag full of marbles..

                                                                                                          1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                            You never threw them out, they were useful.

                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              They would good to hold coins too! Very useful indeed!

                                                                                                    2. Sweet and Sour Chicken balls from bad chinese fast food joints. I remember them from my childhood and university days in Ontario.

                                                                                                      Got a hankering for them two years ago when an old friend mentioned she was having pregnancy cravings for them. It was only then did I realize I have never encountered them in California these last 13 years. My search for them turned up empty.

                                                                                                      Life as an ex-pat needs to some strange food searches..chicken balls, jamaican beef patty, poutine, swiss chalet sauce, ketchup chips, etc., etc.

                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: gnomatic

                                                                                                        I remember those very well. Lots of ball and not much chicken...you would never be very far from a patty if you were in the NYC area, however.

                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                          I didn't encounter chicken balls until I went to university in Guelph! I just didn't get it..

                                                                                                          1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                            There is nothing of the sort in real Chinese food, I assure you. It's the kind of thing we used to get when we had been drinking (in high school, of course).

                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              I suspect that I had never had them before because my mother didn't like chinese food, so we never ordered it (except Dim Sum.. which we had regularly in wpg's tiny Chinatown). But I remember a friend of my mother's from a small town in Saskatchewan telling me that every small town in the Prairies in the 50s, 60s and 70s had a chinese restaurant.. no doubt with food adapted for Canadian tastes!

                                                                                                              1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                                It's not really a Chinese restaurant food.

                                                                                                                It's more of a Chinese food at the mall food court or chinese fast food type of food. Usually a pile of deep fried spheres under a bright heat lamp is how I remember them.

                                                                                                                I wonder is it perhaps regional in Canada as well.

                                                                                                                1. re: gnomatic

                                                                                                                  Those chicken balls can be found across the country, had them in Hamilton Ontario, and they are here in Montreal, QC.

                                                                                                          2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            I have gotten beef patty in Manhattan, they were just meh. I suspect I need to go farther out to get the good ones.

                                                                                                          3. re: gnomatic

                                                                                                            Ha! I had those this past weekend--my brother lives in a small town so we had 'Chinese' delivery chicken balls in their bright red sauce along with the egg rolls, chop suey, ribs, fried rice etc.

                                                                                                          4. Well summer is here and who doesn't associate it with some form of ice cream. In honour of Canada Day I went to Menchie's and had some Red Velvet frozen yogurt, need to read the link to understand:
                                                                                                            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/n...

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. For some really great Canadian baking recipes (even if the butter tarts are maple, sigh), check out the Canadian Living Complete Baking Book published in 2008. Everything I've tried from it has been excellent. They test their recipes like crazy.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                Yes, sometimes I find their recipes are a bit bland and need tweaking, but their testing is excellent. I often consult their site due to its consistency.

                                                                                                                I can easily take that out for a library. I almost never do sweet baking (really try to avoid sugar). I do make at least one clafoutis in the summer, but don't need a recipe for that.