Next time you are travelling in or to Canada make sure you pack your appetite. These local, delicious dishes were inspired through the culture and history of each area.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
The cuisine of Newfoundland has been influenced by those who settled there – the Irish and Scottish – as well as the First Nations groups. The words to remember when thinking about food here is “home-cooked” and “comfort,” unsurprising given the weather. The bounty of the waters around St. John’s informs the cuisine with fishcakes, fish and brewis, seal flipper pie, cod cheeks and cod tongues on the menu. Toutons (fried bread dough), Figgy Duff, bakeapples, partridgeberries and blueberries appear on the sweet side of a Newfoundland menu. Shorthand for St. John’s contribution to Canada’s culinary heritage might just be fish and chips.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Ah, the seafood. Scallops, oysters, lobster, salmon, mussels, the chowders…the crystalline waters around Nova Scotia give up some of the tastiest seafood in Canada. The sweet-toothed are well cared for too with great, fat blueberries and apples that are turned into the kind of desserts our grandmothers made. Now, of course, we wash it down with Champagne-style cider from the Annapolis Valley or a wine from the nearby Gaspereau Valley.
Prince Edward Island
It’s all about the lobster in Prince Edward Island. In a roll, with a side of potato salad and coleslaw. And the cultured mussels. And those plump, glistening oysters. And the potatoes. The island’s primary industries are fishing and farming, the cuisine has a “field to table” ethic. Sweet treats include ice cream and chocolate. The chocolate-covered potato chips are a particular delicacy.
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Seafood and potatoes. Could New Brunswick cuisine really be reduced to those two items? Well, yes, when the seafood is as fresh, plump and delicious as it is and the potatoes are so noteworthy that none other than McCains set up its headquarters here. Fredericton has two universities and there are plenty of restaurants that cater to the students’ cosmopolitan palates. There are Caribbean, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Lebanese, Mexican, Pakistani and Vietnamese restaurants. Springtime is fiddlehead season. These baby ferns that taste like a cross between asparagus and green beans are harvested from the islands of the St. John River. New Brunswick folk eat them with butter, salt and pepper. Some enjoy them with vinegar or coat them in a cheese sauce.
Quebec City, Quebec
Classic French fare based on local ingredients – game, fish, fruits and vegetables. The cuisine leans toward hearty rather than fancy. Traditional dishes include Tourtière (a pie made of ground pork and potatoes, topped with flaky pastry), cipaille (a meat pie with layers of meat), roast pork, cretons (a sort of pork pâté), baked beans, sugar pie (brown sugar and egg, with whipped cream on the side) and buckwheat pancakes are just a few of the local delicacies.
A bagel topped with cream cheese for breakfast, a smoked-meat sandwich with coleslaw, potato chips and a pickle for lunch and poutine (a tasty rib-sticking combination of fries and gravy with cheese curds) for dinner makes for a delicious day. Montreal’s dining scene also features the cuisine of more than 80 countries.
We could say the BeaverTail is the quintessential treat in Ottawa but that would sell the rest of the city’s cuisines way too short. The capital is home to Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute and has a buzzing scene. Local artisanal cheeses, baked goods and seasonal produce are on sale in the farmers’ markets, fare that’s turned into delicious meals at the city’s eateries. None other than Barack Obama picked up a BeaverTail when he visited Byward Market.
The dining scene in Toronto reflects the city’s diversity. Waves of immigration have informed its cuisine over the years. You’ll find delicious Chinese, Greek, Italian and Indian food as well as newer arrivals, such as Hungarian, Korean, Japanese and Caribbean cuisines. The newest trends are farm-to-table cuisine and nose-to-tail eating, but for the quintessential Toronto experience, Cheapflights.ca recommends grabbing a Peameal Bacon sandwich at St. Lawrence Market.
Ginger beef is the ultimate fusion of Canadian and Chinese food and Calgary is the best place to try it. Edmonton has the reputation as a pierogi city, while Calgary is considered more creative and upscale – the culinary capital of the Prairies. Alberta has seen an influx of immigrants in recent years and these new Canadians have revitalized Calgary’s dining scene. In addition to the excellent beef joints (you’ll have to try a prairie oyster, or two), there are good French, Chinese, Italian and Japanese restaurants as well as Indian, Greek, Thai, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Korean, Ethiopian, German, Moroccan and Spanish spots to eat. To drink, you’ll have a Bloody Caesar, obviously.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Sushi, sushi, sushi – the best in Canada. The BC roll originated here, and some locals say the California roll was invented in BC, too. Then there’s the local salmon, the organic vegetables grown in the local farms and the freshly picked fruit from the orchards of the Okanagan. Our signature BC sweet-treat is the Nanaimo bar, three layers of heaven – crumb, custard buttercream and a topping of chocolate.
(Main image: joeshlabotnik)