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Are you Canadian? What's the one meat dish that represents our country?

I've been part of a dinner club for the past 20+ years. We pick a theme and do a potluck. We recently realized that we have never done Canada as a theme. So the mandate is "if you would show a visitor, to our country, only ONE dish that you think best represents us, what would you pick'? I'm tasked with preparing 2 main course meat dishes.

Of course I have some of my own ideas but was hoping to hear from fellow Canucks about what one dish they would pick. As an Albertan I tend to think about beef, but what's the challenge in that? Easy peasy... I'd love to hear what others would do.

Thanks Chowfriends, you always have the BEST ideas!

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  1. I am not Canadian but I lived about an hour away from Montreal in new York State. Something I came to love was Tourtiere. I make it every Christmas eve.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      Not Canadian either tho I've spent a couple years living in Vancouver (LOVE it!).

      I was also going to say Tourtière. Not something you'll find easily in BC but beyond delicious and the perfect food for cold winters.

      1. re: Candy

        My Canadian husband also immediately answered Tourtiere.

      2. I'd say the answer depends on what part of the country you live in....(I live in Toronto)

        East Coast (PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia) - lobster suppers, mussels, and Dalvay by the Sea's sticky toffee pudding

        Quebec - tourtière

        Ontario - a bit of a mix of everything. My husband's family would say various game meats (they are from Northern Ontario), myself (being a Southern Ontario/Toronto kid) would give you more of a "world cuisine" answer. But, check out the menus of Canoe or Globe (both in Toronto) for some inspiration

        When I think of the Prairies, beef, potatoes and Earl's skin Palace ;)

        BC - salmon (in particular, Haida candy version), seafood in general.


        Your dinner parties sound wonderful. Enjoy

        1 Reply
        1. re: CocoaChanel

          By the way, I have the same "notions" about the US... I am way more likely to order seafood in Boston and a steak in Dallas or Chicago, than the reverse


        2. I lived in Alberta for a couple of decades. I immediately think of beef, as if there's any dish that actually represents our country other than Nanaimo bars or tourtiere. Or poutine. Or whale blubber. :P

          8 Replies
          1. re: LMAshton

            Canadian Bacon! Or the famed peameal bacon sandwich from Anthony Bourdain layover trip show to Toronto,

            My first thought though was tourtière, poutine with Canadian back bacon, or seal flipper or cod tongue from Newfoundland. I have to admit the cod tongues were tasty... Considering they were crisp, battered, and fried.

            Whale blubber... Ick.

            1. re: Nevy

              Does anyone in any area of Canada actually call it Canadian Bacon?

              1. re: FrenchSoda

                No. It's just bacon, here. ;)
                (With apologies to Big Bang Theory).

                We either call it back bacon or peameal bacon.

                1. re: FrenchSoda

                  I never heard anyone refer to it in Vancouver.

                      1. re: LMAshton

                        No one calls it Canadian Bacon in my area of the country either, it's peameal or sometimes back bacon. Just curious if anyone anywhere else actually does.

                        1. re: FrenchSoda

                          People need to remember that "Canadian Bacon" and "Peameal Bacon" aren't the same thing.

                          You can buy "Canadian Bacon" here but it's not that popular. It's more like a dry cured pork loin whereas "Peameal Bacon" is cured, wet and rolled in corn meal.

                          Another way to look at it is CB is what American's think we eat and PB is what we do eat.


                2. I'm not Canadian, but my best friend is (Quebec). I'd say either poutine or maple bacon pie. But those are Quebecoise and you know what, Canada's a BIG country. Curious to see more answers.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                    Please tell me about maple bacon pie? I've never heard of it and some of my family lives in Canada.

                    1. re: JMF

                      I think they actually called it sugar pie? Some kind of of maple sugar pie with a bacon fat based crust (with pieces of bacon in it). I thought it was really good, but my friend's family pretty much universally hated it, was embarrassed by it, and considered it the quintessential example of their grandma's awful down-home cooking. Poor grandma (excuse me, grandmere) should have just lived long enough to cash in on the bacon dessert bandwagon.

                  2. How about venison or bison steaks?

                    1 Reply
                    1. How about the nice creton, the pork spread. It is delish on toast, crackers, bread.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: windward

                        While I have a fond memories of breakfast in Montreal and cretons, it's not something that's easy to find/all that familiar to Albertans. (AB being where TSAW is l believe)

                        1. re: maplesugar

                          So very easy to make and even better than store bought.

                          1. re: Ruthie789

                            I agree, the OP asked for a national dish--my point was cretons are not well known out west unlike tourtiere, poutine or nanaimo bars.

                        1. This might have a regional response. Many Quebecers have a ham at some celebration through the year. Mme. Jehane Benoit has written both French and English cookbooks and a ham recipe can be found in her books. As well tortiere is popular in Quebec and what is better than a good Canadian hamburger?

                          1. As with others, my immediate thought was Salmon -- ideally, Sockeye, lightly grilled with a bit of honey -- because I'm from BC.

                            Tourtiere is a dish that manages to be humble and impressive all at the same time, so it's also a great dish for a dinner party.

                                1. re: porker

                                  I admit that beaver (the rodent not the other) was what came to my mind also. Also elk.

                                2. Canadian Living did a very nice cookbook back in 1987 that's organized by characteristic foods of each of the regions. Perhaps that would be helpful.

                                  It's called, simply enough, "The Canadian Living Cookbook".

                                  I'm not sure wether or not it's still in print but a library may have it. Actually, I just checked and it's not still in print but Amazon has copies available. It's highly rated on their site and I'd have to say I really am glad I got a copy way back when too.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rainey

                                    Canada was/is most densely populated where the Trans Canada Railway was. That railway was laid down as close to the US as possible for various reasons.
                                    So the railway is what linked various regions of Canada together.
                                    So I'm thinking 'railway food'.
                                    What could you get on the railway anywhere in Canada? Beef and potatoes and some root crops.
                                    So for me it would be basically a 'BB' without the mushrooms and red wine. Peeled boiled (simmered) potatoes on the plate with boiled (simmered) root veg. Usually they would have been turnips or carrots or beets.
                                    Your modified 'BB' would have best quality chuck and young root veg. of course.
                                    Served with a typical 'Canadian' beer sadly. Worst beer in the world!..........after American beer of course.

                                  2. Baked Beans, ham, and brown bread

                                    1. Tourtiere is a great idea. Can't help but second that.

                                      What about peameal bacon? It doesn't have to be just a casual, grilled meat that goes on a bun. Buy a large piece of it (or cure your own!), roast it and serve it with a peach sauce.

                                      1. I live in a small town in BC and we get a lot of overseas visitors the main thing I will cook for them is cedar planked salmon. I try to get either sockeye, artic char or trout (yes I know, not salmon). I do a glaze of maple syrup and lime juice.

                                        I agree tortiere seems very Canadian, however I had never heard of it growing up in Calgary without a single french influence. But bbq salmon and steak I grew up eating all the time.

                                        Tough to choose one thing truly representative of the whole country.

                                        14 Replies
                                        1. re: cleopatra999

                                          Maybe we could simplify matters by asking instead what language is typical of the country? ;)

                                            1. re: CocoaChanel

                                              French is also spoken throughout Canada. You have the Acadians in the Maritimes, the French in Quebec, and in parts of Ontario and in Manitoba.

                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                And it's part of standard school curriculum for everyone in BC.

                                                Is that so in the other provinces as well?

                                                1. re: rainey

                                                  I would say so considering it's one of our official languages.

                                                  I can confirm that it is in Ontario. At least, when I was in school (70's/80's)


                                                  1. re: rainey

                                                    Not sure. I referred to those areas because French populations have been there for a very long time and food is very much a part of the French Canadian culture.

                                              2. re: Bada Bing

                                                I guess I should clarify--my comment was meant as a joke. I'm a USA citizen, but I used to live in North Dakota and also Michigan, two states bordering Canada. Canada is notoriously and legally (constitutionally?) obliged to recognize both English and French.

                                                It does create the odd situation of signs needing to be in both languages regardless of whether there is much presence of either language group in the area.

                                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                                  I know. I was always amused by the postal trucks that all carried the sign "Poste Canada Post". I think the point got made in either language but I respect that they work hard on equal representation and that kids grow up bi-lingual.

                                                  1. re: rainey

                                                    It is to be respected, but I don't think my Canadian friends (from Alberta and Manitoba) were exactly fluent in French.

                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                      I wasn't fluent.

                                                      We moved around a lot. French didn't become part of the curriculum (I was in school from 1973 to 1986) until I was in grade five, and that's because we lived in a weird little town in Alberta that was predominantly French to the point that, in many shops, depending on time of day you went, you might not find anyone who spoke any English at all.

                                                      French was an option in other schools I attended from grade 7 to 12. Other than that odd little town, it was never mandatory.

                                                      1. re: LMAshton

                                                        If a Canadian kid outside of Quebec is truly bilingual, the second language is probably not French. Chinese maybe.

                                                        French was the standard second language in high school (taking a language was a requirement for university), but there were other options, so it was possible to make it to the end of high school with very little French.

                                                        I took it up to the end of high school. I can sort of read text in French, but my spoken French is poor, and I can't use any tense except present and future.

                                                      2. re: Bada Bing

                                                        There is a respectable francophone demographic in Manitoba. Ask any of your friends about Daniel Lavoie (singer).

                                                        1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                                          There are francophones all over Canada. Many regional cuisines make up Canadian cuisine. What meat is the most common among them all? I think beef is the common thread.

                                                    2. re: Bada Bing

                                                      The way my Quebecoise friend (and every other Canadian I've ever met, actually) explained it to me, there are two official languages, English and French. If you speak fluent English and not so fluent French, you can work anywhere in Canada. If you speak fluent French and not so fluent English, you need to find a job in Quebec. Oversimplified I know, (yes I know that a dozen or so Native languages are official in their respective provinces, etc.) but also kind of accounts for much of the Language Police insanity in Quebec - that kind of defensiveness.

                                                2. "if you would show a visitor, to our country, only ONE dish that you think best represents us, what would you pick'?

                                                  Unfortunately this is completely impossible as people are pointing out. Too many regional differences.
                                                  It's like asking what ONE dish best represents Italy or France. Just come up with some truly Canadian dishes and you should be fine.


                                                  1. Mom was (Canadian)---she was a tourtiere gal all the way. I'd go beef and tourtiere...home-y, delicious, pleasing.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                      My husband is from Montreal and Ottawa and he votes tourtiere, but be sure to do the pulled pork roast and veal breast version rather than ground meat, which is sort of a cop-out. The texture and flavor differences are massive. Use lots of good-quality "poultry seasoning". :)

                                                      On the other hand, there's always moose.