Canadian cuisine varies widely depending on the regions of the nation. The three earliest cuisines of Canada have First Nations, English, Scottish and French roots, with the traditional cuisine of English Canada closely related to British cuisine, while the traditional cuisine of French Canada has evolved from French cuisine and the winter provisions of fur traders. With subsequent waves of immigration in the 19th and 20th century from Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe, South Asia, East Asia, and the Caribbean, the regional cuisines were subsequently augmented.
Although certain dishes may be identified as "Canadian" due to the ingredients used or the origin of its inception, an overarching style of Canadian cuisine is more difficult to define. Some Canadians such as the former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark believe that Canadian cuisine is a collage of dishes from the cuisines of other cultures. Clark himself has been paraphrased to have noted: "Canada has a cuisine of cuisines. Not a stew pot, but a smorgasbord."
Some define Canadian cuisine by the foods native to North America, now used worldwide, such as squash, beans, peppers, berries, wild rice, salmon, and large claw lobster. Some define Canadian cuisine by recipes altered due to lack of ingredients of the original dish found elsewhere, such as tourtière made with pork not pigeon, sushi made with salmon not tuna, candy made with maple syrup instead of molasses. Some have sought to define Canadian cuisine along the line of how Claus Meyer defined Nordic cuisine in his Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen; namely that dishes in Canadian cuisine should reflect Canadian seasons, that they should use locally sourced ingredients that thrive in the Canadian climate, and that they are combined with good taste and health in mind. Others believe that Canadian cuisine is still in the process of being defined from the cuisines of the numerous cultures that have influenced it, and that being a culture of many cultures, Canada and its cuisine is less about a particular dish but rather how the ingredients are combined.
Aboriginal food in particular is considered very Canadian. Métis food is especially so, since the Métis people had such an integrated role in how Canada, and Canadian food, came to be. Foods such as bannock, moose, deer, bison, pemmican, maple taffy, and Métis stews such as barley stew, all originated either in Canada or through aboriginal peoples, and are eaten widely throughout the country. Other foods that originated in Canada are often thought of in the same overarching group of Canadian food as aboriginal foods, despite not being so, such as peameal bacon, cajun seasoning, and Nanaimo bars. There are also some foods of non-Canadian origin that are eaten very frequently. Perogies (a Ukrainian food) are an example of this, due to the large number of early Ukrainian immigrants. There are, however, some regional foods that are not eaten as often on one side of the country as on the other, such as dulse in the Maritimes, stews in the Territories, or poutine in the Francophone areas of Canada (not limited to Québec). In general, Canadian foods contain a lot of starch, breads, game meats (such as deer, moose, bison, etc), and often involve a lot of stews and soups, most notably Métis-style and split-pea soup.
Canadian food has been shaped and impacted by continual waves of immigration, with the types of foods and from different regions and periods of Canada reflecting this immigration.
The traditional Indigenous cuisine of Canada was based on a mixture of wild game, foraged foods, and farmed agricultural products. Each region of Canada with its own First Nations and Inuit people used their local resources and own food preparation techniques for their cuisines.
Maple syrup was first collected and used by aboriginal people of Eastern Canada and North Eastern US. Canada is the world's largest producer of maple syrup. The origins of maple syrup production are not clear though the first syrups were made by repeatedly freezing the collected maple sap and removing the ice to concentrate the sugar in the remaining sap. Maple syrup is one of the most commonly consumed Canadian foods of Aboriginal origins.
Dried meat products such as pânsâwân and pemmican are commonly consumed by the indigenous peoples of the plains. In particular, the former was a predecessor for North American style beef jerky, with the processing methods adapted for beef.
In most of the Canadian West Coast and Pacific Northwest, Pacific salmon was an important food resource to the First Nations peoples, along with certain marine mammals. Salmon were consumed fresh when spawning or smoked dry to create a jerky-like food that could be stored year-round. The latter food is commonly known and sold as "salmon jerky". Whipped Soapberry, known as xoosum (HOO-shum, "Indian ice cream") in the Interior Salish languages of British Columbia, is consumed similarly to ice cream or as a cranberry-cocktail-like drink. It is known for being a kidney tonic, which are called agutak in Arctic Canada (with animal/fish fat).
In the Arctic, Inuit traditionally survived on a diet consisting of land and marine mammals, fish, and foraged plant products. Meats were consumed fresh but also often prepared, cached, and allowed to ferment into igunaq or kiviak. These fermented meats have the consistency and smell of certain soft aged cheeses. Snacks such as muktuk, which consist of whale skin and blubber is eaten plain, though sometimes dipped in soy sauce. Chunks of muktuk are sliced with an ulu prior to or during consumption. Fish are eaten boiled, fried, and prior to today's settlements, often in dried forms. The so-called "Eskimo potato" (Inuit: oatkuk: Claytonia tuberosa) and other "mousefoods" are some of the plants consumed in the arctic.
Foods such as "bannock", popular with First Nations and Inuit, reflect the historic exchange of these cultures with French fur traders, who brought with them new ingredients and foods. Common contemporary consumption of bannock, powdered milk, and bologna by aboriginal Canadians reflects the legacy of Canadian colonialism in the prohibition of hunting and fishing, and the institutional food rations provided to Indian reserves. Due to similarities in treatment under colonialism, many Native American communities throughout the continent consume similar food items with some emphasis on local ingredients.
Settlers and traders from the British Isles account for the culinary influences of early English Canada in the Maritimes and Southern Ontario (Upper Canada), while French settlers account for the cuisine of southern Quebec (Lower Canada), Northeastern Ontario, and New Brunswick. Southwestern regions of Ontario have strong Dutch and Scandinavian influences.
In Canada's Prairie provinces, which saw massive immigration from Eastern and Northern Europe in the pre-WW1 era, Ukrainian, German, and Polish cuisines are strong culinary influences. Also noteworthy in some areas of the British Columbia Interior and the Prairies is the cuisine of the Doukhobors, Russian-descended vegetarians.
The cuisines of Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces derive mainly from British and Irish cooking, with a preference for salt-cured fish, beef, and pork. Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia also maintain strong British cuisine traditions.
Jewish immigrants to Canada during the late 1800s played a significant culinary role within Canada, chiefly renowned for Montreal-style bagels and Montreal-style smoked meat. A regional variation of both emerged within Winnipeg, Manitoba's Jewish community, which also derived Winnipeg-style Cheesecake from New York recipes. Winnipeg has given birth to numerous other unique dishes, such as the schmoo torte, smoked goldeye and "co-op style" rye bread and cream cheese.
Much of what are considered "Chinese dishes" in Canada are more likely to be Canadian or North American inventions, with the Chinese restaurants of each region tailoring their traditional cuisine to local tastes. This "Canadian Chinese cuisine" is widespread across the country, with great variation from place to place.
The Chinese buffet, although found in the United States and other parts of Canada, had its origins in early Gastown, Vancouver, c.1870. This serving setup came out of the practice of the many Scandinavians working in the woods and mills around the shantytown getting the Chinese cook to put out a steam table on a sideboard.
In Toronto, a style of medium-thick crust margarita pizza topped with garlic and basil oil topping is popular, which combines Italian pizza with the Vietnamese tradition of using herbed oil toppings in food.
Indian food is particularly popular in Canada, deriving mostly from Northern Indian cuisine. It is characterized for its use of bread, curry, and use of yogurt and cream for meat-based dishes; it also draws inspiration from South Indian cuisine in its use of sour and spicy combinations.
Common contenders as the Canadian national food include:
According to an informal survey by The Globe and Mail conducted through Facebook from collected comments, users considered the following to be the Canadian national dish, with maple syrup likely above all the other foods if it were considered:
While many ingredients are commonly found throughout Canada, each region with its own history and local population has unique ingredients, which are used to define unique dishes.
|Ingredient||Defining dish||Pacific||Mountain||The Prairies||Ontario||Quebec||Atlantic||Northern|
|Saskatoon berries||Saskatoon berry jam||X||X||X|
|Fiddlehead ferns||Boiled fiddleheads||X||X||X|
|Maple syrup||Pancake topping||X||X||X|
|Harp seal||Flipper pie||X||X|
|Pacific salmon||Cedar-plank salmon||X|
|Atlantic salmon||Smoked salmon||X||X|
|Atlantic cod||Fish and brewis||X||X|
|Winnipeg goldeye||Smoked goldeye||X|
Wild game of all sorts is still hunted and eaten by many Canadians, though not commonly in urban centres. Venison, from white-tailed deer, moose, elk (wapiti) or caribou, is eaten across the country and is considered quite important to many First Nations cultures. Seal meat is eaten, particularly in the Canadian North, the Maritimes, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Wild fowl like ducks and geese, grouse (commonly called partridge) and ptarmigan are also regularly hunted. Other animals like bear and beaver may be eaten by dedicated hunters or indigenous people, but are not generally consumed by much of the population.
West Coast salmon varieties include sockeye, coho, Tyee (also known as Chinook or king), and pink. Freshwater fish, such as the walleye (also known as pickerel) and lake whitefish are commercially fished in the Great Lakes and are popular in southern Ontario.
Wild chanterelle, pine, morel, lobster, puffball, and other mushrooms are commonly consumed. Canada produces good cheeses and many successful beers, and is known for its excellent ice wines and ice ciders. Gooseberries, salmonberries, pearberries, cranberries and strawberries are gathered wild or grown.
Although there are considerable overlaps between Canadian food and the rest of the cuisine in North America, many unique dishes (or versions of certain dishes) are found and available only in the country. Some are more commonly eaten than others.
|Calgary-style Ginger beef||Candied and deep fried beef, with sweet ginger sauce.||X||O||X|
|Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding||Common Sunday dinner in English Canada, especially amongst Canadians of British ancestry||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Roast turkey||North American roast turkey||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Baked beans||Beans cooked with maple syrup||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|B.C. roll||A variety of sushi containing salmon|
|California Roll||A variety of sushi invented in Vancouver despite its namesake.|
|Jiggs dinner||A Sunday meal similar to the New England boiled dinner||O|
|Back or peameal bacon||Called Canadian bacon in the US||X||X||X||O||X|
|Tourtière||A meat pie made of pork and lard||X||X||X||X||O|
|Montreal-style smoked meat||Deli style cured beef||X||X||O||X|
|Bannock||A fried bread and dough food||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Bouilli||Québécois beef and vegetable potroast||O|
|Bologna stew||A stew made of cubed chunks of Bologna sausage||O|
|Cod tongues and scrunchions||Baked cod tongue and deep fried pork fat||O|
|Yellow pea soup||Split pea soup eaten by settlers such as the Habitant||X||O||X|
|Poutine||A dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy||X||X||X||X||O||X||X|
|Montreal-style bagels||A sweet, firm, wood-fired bagel||X||O|
|Pemmican||Ground dried meat, fat, and berries||X||X|
|Oka cheese||Cheese originally manufactured by Trappist monks||X||X||O|
|Flipper pie||Pie made with harp seal flipper||O|
|Hot chicken sandwich||Chicken (or turkey) sandwich doused in gravy and peas||X||X||X||X||X|
|Toutons||Fried bread from Newfoundland||O|
|Fish and brewis||Salt cod and hardtack, with pork cracklings||O|
|Rappie pie||Grated potato and meat casserole||O|
|Cretons||Pork spread containing onions and spices||X||O|
|Poutine râpée||Grated Acadian stuffed potato dumpling||O|
|Nova Scotian donair||Ground beef doner kebab served with a sweet milk sauce||X||X||O|
|Garlic fingers||Dough with cheese, garlic, and sometimes meat on top, similar to pizza||X||X||X||X||O|
|Lobster roll||Lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise and served in a toasted hot dog bun||X||X||O|
|Cipaille/sea-pie||Fish and meat layered in a pie||X||O||X|
While most major cities in Canada (including Montreal, in a pilot project) offer a variety of street food, regional "specialties" are notable. While poutine is available in most of the country, it is far more common in Quebec. Similarly, sausage stands can be found across Canada, but are far more common in Ontario (often sold from mobile canteen trucks, usually referred to as "fry trucks" or "chip trucks" and the sausages "street meat"). In Western Canada, a version of the Ukranian garlic-pork sausage, referred to as "Kubasa" (a corruption of the Ukrainian sausage "Kobasa") is widely available and celebrated. The term "smokies" or "smokeys" may refer to Kubasa rather than frankfurters. Fusion cultural foods are constantly evolving, such as the Japadog, which tops a hot dog with traditional Japanese ingredients such as wasabi, teriyaki, shredded daikon radish, or bonito (fish) flakes.
Each Canadian region has street specialties which reflect regional cultural influences. Montreal food trucks offer shish taouk, the Montreal hot dog, and dollar falafels. Although falafel is widespread in Vancouver, Asian-influenced offerings are widespread including sushi, Vietnamese bahn mi subs or Pho soup, Filipino offerings, and various Japanese and Chinese cuisines. In Victoria, BC, vegan and vegetarian burgers are on offer, as are various seafood take-aways and Mexican influenced street food. Pizza slices are a common street offering. Shawarma is quite prevalent in Ottawa and Windsor, while Halifax offers its own unique version of the döner kebab called the donair, which features a distinctive sauce made from condensed milk, sugar, garlic and vinegar. Ice cream trucks can be seen (and often heard due to a jingle being broadcast on loudspeakers) nationwide during the summer months. Winnipeg has a famous line up of food truck vendors on Main street. Since 2007, the city of Toronto has encouraged vendors to sell street food from a wider variety of cuisines.
Beef tongue (also known as neat's tongue or ox tongue) is a dish made of the tongue of a cow.
Beef tongue is very high in fat, contributing up to 72% of its caloric content. Some countries, including Canada and specifically the province of Alberta, export large quantities of beef tongue.Blubber
Blubber is a thick layer of vascularized adipose tissue under the skin of all cetaceans, pinnipeds and sirenians.Blue cheese dressing
Blue cheese dressing is a popular salad dressing and dip in the United States. It is usually made of some combination of blue cheese, mayonnaise, and buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, milk, vinegar, onion powder, and garlic powder. There is a blue cheese vinaigrette that consists of salad oil, bleu cheese, vinegar, and sometimes seasonings.Most major salad dressing producers and restaurants in the United States produce a variant of blue cheese dressing. It is commonly served as a dip with Buffalo wings or crudités (raw vegetables).Canadian Chinese cuisine
Canadian Chinese cuisine (French: Cuisine chinoise canadienne) is a popular style of cooking exclusive to take-out and dine-in eateries found across Canada. It was the first form of commercially available Chinese food in Canada. This cooking style was invented by early Cantonese immigrants who adapted traditional Chinese recipes to Western tastes and the available ingredients. This cuisine developed in a similar process to American Chinese cuisine.Cheese curd
Cheese curds are the moist pieces of curdled milk either eaten alone as a snack, or used for other things. These are chiefly found in Quebec, Canada, in the dish poutine (made of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy), and in the northeastern and midwestern United States. Curds are sometimes referred to as "squeaky cheese".Cheese fries
Cheese fries or cheesy chips (latter British English) are a fast-food dish, consisting of french fries covered in cheese with the possible addition of various other toppings. Cheese fries are generally served as a lunch- or dinner-time meal. They can be found in fast-food locations, diners, and grills all across the United States, as well as the rest of the world.Cuisine of Quebec
Quebec's traditional cuisine is as rich and diverse as the province of Quebec itself. Food critic Jacob Richler wrote that Quebec's cuisine is better defined than that of Canada, due to a language barrier with the dominant culture of the United States and having had more time to develop.Fried dough
Fried dough is a North American food associated with outdoor food stands in carnivals, amusement parks, fairs, rodeos, and seaside resorts (though it can be made at home). "Fried dough" is the specific name for a particular variety of fried bread made of a yeast dough; see the accompanying images for an example of use on carnival-booth signs. Fried dough is also known as fry dough, fry bread (bannock), fried bread, doughboys, elephant ears, scones, pizza fritte, frying saucers, and buñuelos (in the case of smaller pieces). These foods are virtually identical to each other, and recognizably different from other fried dough foods such as doughnuts, beignets, or fritters.
In Canadian cuisine, pieces of fried dough are sometimes called beaver tails. According to Bill Castleman, a writer of books on Canadian word origins, the name referred to quick-baked dough "especially in early 19th-century places where people might camp for one night and where there was no frying pan." In 1978, Pam and Grant Hooker of Ottawa, Ontario, founded the BeaverTails chain of restaurants specializing in the sale of fried dough pastries which are hand stretched to the shape of a beaver's tail.
In Newfoundland, a province in Eastern Canada, fried dough is referred to as a "touton". A touton /ˈtaʊtən is produced by frying bread dough on a pan with butter or the leftover fat from "scrunchions" (fried preserved pork) and served with dark molasses, maple syrup, or corn syrup. It is traditionally made from leftover bread dough and pan-fried, as opposed to deep-fried.
A smaller Italian variant common in North America is the zeppole.
Similar food is found in Europe, also typically from outdoor stands in fairs. For example, in Croatia, fried dough is known as languši, in Hungary as lángos, in Austria as kiachl, in Germany as Knieküchle while the oliebol is eaten in the Netherlands.
A type of soft, fried dough ball frequently coated in sugar can be found in some Chinese restaurants in New York. These dough balls are referred to by any one of a number of names, including but not necessarily limited to "sugar biscuits", "Chinese doughnuts", or the simpler "fried bread".
Turkic countries in Central Asia also have a similar food called Boortsog or Pişi.Ham salad
Ham salad is a traditional Anglo-American salad. Ham salad resembles chicken salad, egg salad, and tuna salad (as well as starch-based salads like potato salad, macaroni salad, and pea salad): the primary ingredient, ham, is mixed with smaller amounts of chopped vegetables or relishes, and the whole is bound with liberal amounts of a mayonnaise, salad cream, or other similar style of salad dressing, such as Miracle Whip.Lobster roll
A lobster roll is a sandwich native to New England and the Canadian Maritimes. It is made of lobster meat served on a grilled hot dog-style bun with the opening on the top rather than the side. The filling may also contain butter, lemon juice, salt and black pepper, with variants made in some parts of New England replacing the butter with mayonnaise. Other versions may contain diced celery or scallion. Potato chips or french fries are the typical sides.London broil
London broil is a beef dish made by broiling marinated beef, then cutting it across the grain into thin strips. Despite its name, the dish and the terminology are North American, not British.Maple sugar
Maple sugar is a traditional sweetener in Canada and the northeastern United States, prepared from the sap of the maple tree ("maple sap").Miracle Whip
Miracle Whip is a sauce condiment manufactured by Kraft Foods and sold throughout the United States and Canada. It is also sold by Mondelēz International (formerly also Kraft Foods) as Miracel Whip throughout Germany. It was developed as a less-expensive alternative to mayonnaise in 1933.Montreal steak seasoning
Montreal steak seasoning, also known as Montreal steak spice, Canadian steak seasoning, or Canadian steak spice, is a spice mix used to flavour steak and grilled meats. It is based on the pickling dry-rub mix used in preparing Montreal smoked meat. The smoked meat seasoning is derived from pickling mixes used in Eastern Europe or Romanian Jewish cuisine.
The primary constituents of Montreal steak seasoning include garlic, coriander, black pepper, Cayenne pepper flakes, dill seed, and salt. The spice mix recipe varies slightly among restaurants and manufacturers.North American cuisine
North American cuisine includes foods native to or popular in countries of North America, such as Canadian cuisine, American cuisine, Mexican cuisine and Central American cuisine. North American cuisines display influence from many international cuisines, including Native American cuisine, Jewish cuisine, Asian cuisine, and especially European cuisine.
As a broad, geo-culinary term, North American cuisine also includes Central American and Caribbean cuisines. These regions are part of North America, so these regional cuisines also fall within the penumbra of North American cookery.
The term "regional" is somewhat ambiguous, however, since the cuisine of Puerto Rico can differ markedly from Cuban cuisine; Mexican cuisine spills across the border into the Tex-Mex and Mexi-Cali "sub-cuisines"; and the cuisines of Michigan and Ontario have more in common with each other than either has with the cuisines of Manitoba or Iowa.Rappie pie
Rappie pie is a traditional Acadian dish from southwest Nova Scotia and areas of Prince Edward Island. It is sometimes referred to as "rapure pie" or "râpure". Its name is derived from the French "patates râpées" meaning "grated potatoes". It is a casserole-like dish traditionally formed by grating potatoes, then squeezing them through cheesecloth. This removes some of the water from the potato solids. The liquid removed is replaced by adding hot broth made from chicken, pork or seafood along with meat and onions, and layering additional grated potatoes over the top.
Common meat fillings include beef, chicken, or bar clams.Roast beef
Roast beef is a dish of beef which is roasted. Essentially prepared as a main meal, the leftovers are often used in sandwiches and sometimes are used to make hash. In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia, roast beef is one of the meats traditionally served at Sunday dinner, although it is also often served as a cold cut in delicatessen stores, usually in sandwiches. A traditional side dish to roast beef is Yorkshire pudding.
Roast beef is a signature national dish of England and holds cultural meaning for the English dating back to the 1731 ballad "The Roast Beef of Old England". The dish is so synonymous with England and its cooking methods from the 18th century that the French nickname for the English is "les Rosbifs".Timbits
Timbits is the name of a bite-sized fried-dough confectionery sold at the Canadian-based franchise Tim Hortons. Equivalent to the American "donut hole", they were introduced in April 1971.Touton
A touton (or toutin) is a type of traditional Canadian pancake commonly made in Newfoundland, produced by frying bread dough on a pan with butter or pork fat served with dark molasses, corn syrup or fruit jam. It is traditionally made from leftover bread dough.
Toutons are usually served at breakfast or brunch and can still be found quite commonly on the breakfast menus of many local restaurants. It is much rarer to find them cooked in fatback pork as modern day dietary considerations have seen an evolution to more healthy fats; the toutons found in Newfoundland restaurants are more likely fried in a combination of olive oil, clarified butter or canola oil. The other very traditional accompaniment to toutons is a drizzle of molasses or pat of butter.
Food portal • Category: North American cuisine