Canadiana Cuisine – Types of food and drink

How to get familiar with the language that Canadians really use day-to-day? In this series "Canadian English: Quirky, eh?", we take listeners on a romp across Canada making small talk, recognizing signature foods, and navigating head-scratching grammar rules and colloquial expressions. We’ll have you sounding like a Canadian in no time!

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Canadiana Cuisine

Hello! Bonjour! Oi! Welcome, and thanks for tuning in to a new episode of our series Canadian English: Quirky, eh? Let´s poke some fun – and hopefully a lit bit of learning along the way – about some of the quirkier aspects of the English language. In particular, Canadian English.

People of every culture can boast about unique recipes, cooking styles and favourite dishes that put them on the culinary map. My name is Larry, and today I am going to talk about my favourite subject: food! Specifically, types of food and drink that originated in or are exclusive to Canada.

Civilizations were built on and dependant on local, accessible food resources. From the prehistoric mammoth hunting depicted in the book The Clan of the Cave Bears – whose movie incidentally was filmed in Canada – through to the dominance of rice in Asian cuisine, and the ever-present lime in Mexican dishes… people have historically based their diets around regional ingredients. Isn’t it interesting that today, there’s a real movement to revert to that principal of local sourcing?

It’s no surprise that salmon from British Columbia’s Pacific coast is considered among the best in the world. Or that lobster farmed in Atlantic waters surrounding Nova Scotia is enjoyed far and wide.

Apples from the Okanagan Valley and sweet syrup from the maple trees of Quebec. Potatoes from Prince Edward Island and Red Fife Wheat grown in Saskatchewan… these are all world-renowned examples of the bounty of Canada! It is said, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I say “When the Niagara Escarpment gives you grapes, make wine!”

Evolving food science, technology and adventurous cooks are all responsible for mixing up these basic ingredients into delicious recipes. Here are some examples of local concoctions to try:

  1. Poutine

This dish consists of French Fries topped with white cheddar cheese curds all smothered in piping hot brown beef gravy. That’s the original recipe created in Quebec which is now known as Canada’s national food. Go figure! There are restaurant chains expanding around the world that serve poutine exclusively in countless varieties with every ingredient imaginable. 

  1. Beaver Tails

An afternoon of winter ice skating on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal is not complete until you have enjoyed a deep-fried doughnut shaped like the flat tail of a beaver! The classic version is topped with brown sugar and cinnamon but there are dozens of sweet and savoury variations to please every taste.

  1. The Bloody Caesar 

This delicious variation of the Bloody Mary cocktail combines vodka with Clamato juice – a mixture of clam and tomato juices. It was invented in Calgary and is now on bar menus worldwide.

  1. A Jigg’s Dinner

Head to Newfoundland to dig into a Jigg’s! It might be the original one-pot dinner, boiling corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots together for a hot serving of real comfort food.

  1. A Schmoo Torte and Apple Jacks

A what? I’m sure there’s a funny story behind this dessert, but I don’t know it. Still, I’m more than happy to bury my face in the pecans, caramel and whipped cream that cover the layers of angel food cake. While in Winnipeg, also try their Apple Jack hand pies.

  1. Tourtiere

The recipe for this Quebec meat pie has been handed down through the generations. While it is considered an everyday comfort food, it is never absent from the Christmas Eve midnight feast.

  1. Butter Tarts

While Quebecers were whipping up their traditional Sugar pies for special occasions, bakers in Ontario were perfecting the art of the butter tart. Both are exquisite desserts made with pie pastry, caramelized sugar and, well, nothing else. For me, the butter tart baked with a few raisins or pecans is a little piece of heaven!

  1. Alberta Beef

It is said that there are as many cattle as there are people in Alberta. Maybe that one-to-one attention and care is why Alberta farmers are renowned for the quality of their beef.

  1. Canadian Beer

Often referred to as high-octane, many brands of beer are brewed to a higher alcohol level than, say, most American beers. The iconic Molson Canadian is one such brand. And Quebec’s Brador brand has an even higher alcohol content. But we need to drink in moderation, because too much beer can lead to a Molson muscle, the wrong kind of 6-pack! 

  1. Montreal Smoked Meat

There’s really no comparing any other corned beef on rye sandwich to the famous Montreal Smoked Meat. Densely stacked thin slices of moist, tender meat melt in your mouth, with a chaser of yellow mustard and a dill pickle on the side.

  1. Screech, Scrunchions and Baie Qu’appelle jam

When in Newfoundland, a night out is not over until you’ve downed some screech, a 40%-by-volume run-based drink. You’ll then have the urge for some deep-fried pork rinds, called scrunchions. Finally, buy a jar of bakeapple jam for your mother and go home to bed.

  1. Bison and Bannock

No list of Canadian food is complete without a nod to the traditional First Nations’ staples of bison meat along with the flat bread, bannock,  introduced by the early fur traders.

  1. Canadian Bacon

What is referred to as Canadian Bacon in other parts of the world is called peameal bacon or back bacon in Canada. It is a cured pork loin rolled in cornmeal and sliced into circles, fried and served often as a breakfast meat. In Canada, American style bacon of rashers of pork belly is simply called bacon.

Being a richly multicultural country, Canadians enjoy all kinds of food from all over the world. Many parts of the country are known for the traditional foods of their ancestors and ethnic food markets and restaurants abound. You can travel the world without leaving home!

Don’t forget to tune in to our next episode; we’ll keep talking about things that make Canada special and, yes, just a bit quirky!

We hope you enjoyed  today´s  episode. Please take a moment to give us your feedback and like us with the big fans up. Fill free to play it again and share it with friends and family.

You have been listening to Canadian English, Quirky, eh? The podcast series produced by Brazilian Wave Canada. This project was made possible through the generous support of the Canadian Periodical Fund. If you want to subscribe to the series and have access to the exclusive episodes, please sign in at waveplus.ca.

Until then,

Catch you later!                                                                         

Adieu!

Tchau!

Stay healthy!

Glossary

Ancestor: Any person from whom one is descended. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestor)

Bison: Of the two surviving species, the American bison, B. bison, found only in North America, is the more numerous. Although commonly known as a buffalo in the United States and Canada, it is only distantly related to the true buffalo. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bison)

Clam: A type of sea creature with a shell in two parts that can close together tightly, and a soft body that can be eaten. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/clam?q=Clam)

Ethnic: Grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of folklore, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation, religion, or social treatment within their residing area. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_group)

High-octane: Fuel of very good quality, full of energy or very powerful. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/high-octane?q=High-octane)

Multicultural: In everyday usage, it is a synonym for “ethnic pluralism”. Various ethnic groups collaborate and enter into dialogue with one another without having to sacrifice their particular identities. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiculturalism)

Pecan: A type of long nut with a rough surface and a smooth reddish-brown shell. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/pecan?q=Pecans)

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Podcast – Canadian English: Quirky, eh?

Produced by BRZ Group Inc., Canada, 2021

  • Director: Christian Pedersen
  • Production Coordinator: Ana Carolina Botelho
  • Scriptwriter: Lauri Richardson
  • Voices: Eric Major and Lauri Richardson
  • Vignettes: Robson DJ Estudio 
  • Website Production & Marketing: Creative Team
  • Project Management: Teresa Botelho