Asked by Todd L Ross in CanadaFood & CookingFrench Food
What are some foods that only Canadians eat?
July 15, 2019 2:55PM
Recently, Twitter went wild when Canadian comedian Seth Rogen started posting about his country’s favorite foods (including, uh, McDonald’s pizza).
When I was a kid in Vancouver, McDonald’s had pizza, and on Tuesdays they had all you can eat pizza. I think about this a lot. That’s all. pic.twitter.com/XYPn39IdGM— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) July 5, 2019
That turned into a wider conversation, in which people tried to name the most Canadian food. While it’s probably impossible to name a single food that sums up Canada—or that all Canadians enjoy—the country’s culinary heritage is fairly well established.
Here are a few Canadian favorites that aren’t especially popular in other parts of the world:
Ketchup Potato Chips
Ketchup-flavored potato chips sound like a uniquely American invention, but they’re as Canadian as a moose playing hockey. According to Canadian food critic Chris Nutall-Smith, the best ketchup chips are made by Lay’s and sold only in Canada.
Surprisingly, they don’t taste much like ketchup; they’re tangy, but with more sweet-and-salty flavor than the wet stuff. Ketchup chips are available in some parts of the United States, but in Canada, they’re practically the national junk food.
When you think about “Canadian cuisine,” you probably picture a big basket of poutine. To the uninitiated, it looks gross: Poutine consists of cheese curds, brown gravy, and french fries. It’s full of fat, starch, and protein, which makes for an incredibly satisfying comfort food.
Poutine is certainly available south of the border, but it’s far more ubiquitous in Canada (and especially in the province of Quebec, where the dish likely originated).
This classic dessert is a pastry tart with a filling of syrup (maple, if you’re traditional), butter, sugar, and egg, encased in a pastry shell and cooked until the filling is somewhat solid.
While butter tarts are found on menus throughout Canada, they’re most commonly associated with the province of Ontario. Several Ontario cities even hold yearly competitions to find the best butter tarts.
This is unsmoked pork loin rolled in yellow cornmeal. So, why isn’t it called cornmeal bacon? In antiquity, people would roll their bacon in a meal made from ground-up peas, but cornmeal has gradually supplanted peameal as the ingredient of choice (it tastes quite a bit better than peameal).
While you can eat peameal bacon on its own, it’s commonly served as a sandwich on a fresh roll. Add a drizzle of mustard, and you’re good to go.
Most commonly served in Quebec, tourtière is a meat pie with ground beef, ground pork, onions, potatoes, and spices. Often, bakers will add a bit of wild game meat for additional flavor.
The buttery crust complements the meat beautifully, but it’s a fairly rich dish strongly associated with winter holidays. If you’re visiting Canada and you want to try some, stop by a grocery store—many sell frozen tourtière all year round.
Another Quebecer classic, pâté chinois is similar to shepherd’s pie, but with a few key differences. It’s made in layers, with a bottom layer of seasoned ground beef, a middle layer of corn, and a topping of mashed potato.
While its name indicates that pâté chinois is Chinese in origin (it literally translates to Chinese pie), nothing about the dish is especially Chinese. It’s possible that Chinese cooks introduced it to Canadian railway workers in the 19th century. It’s occasionally found in the United States, especially in New England.
The simplest explanation of the BeaverTail is this: It’s a Canadian donut that looks, ahem, like a beaver’s tail.
Unlike many of the other foods on this list, the BeaverTail is a trademarked recipe, only available at BeaverTails bakeries and some grocery stores. It has German origins, but it’s rarely found outside Canada. It consists of fried dough, pressed into a flat shape, with various toppings.
It’s a bit more versatile than your typical American donut; some savory BeaverTails are topped with cream cheese and capers, some are topped with seafood, and some feature peanut butter and chocolate (always a favorite).
To make authentic maple taffy, you heat up maple syrup, lay down a tray of fresh, clean snow—yes, seriously—and pour the syrup onto the snow in even strips. Twist the taffy onto a popsicle stick, and you’re good to go.
Any recipe that requires a sheet pan filled with snow is fundamentally Canadian, and maple taffy certainly fits the bill. It’s not exactly fine dining, but it’s certainly delicious.
This is just a broad overview.
There aren’t really too many things that “only Canadians eat,” as many of Canada’s most popular foods have spread throughout the world, but the dishes in this list should provide a decent overview of the country’s culinary contributions.