Canada 150 – Culinary tour, eh

tarte au sucre pie, tarte au sucre pie

if I don’t get some I think I’m gonna die

~adapted from Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee~

As mentioned previously, Canadian cuisine is varied depending on region, season cultural influence. It makes use of both local and imported ingredients and many Canadians will have a memory and/or experience of many of the following. Here’s a quick Canadian culinary tour.


Newfoundland jiggs dinner, figgy duff and toutons; Nova Scotia lobster roll, donair and oatcakes; PEI potatoes; Acadian meat pie; Quebec sugar pie and tourtière; Montreal style bagels and smoked meat; Saskatchewan canola, wheat, mustard and lentils; Atlantic cod, Alberta beef and Arctic char

Iconic junk food

ketchup chips, hickory sticks, crispy crunch bars, chicken bones, pal-o-mine bars, McCain frozen french fries, tiger tail ice cream, beaver tails, timbits, New Brunswick Crosby molasses; Swiss Chalet chicken and sauce in English Canada and St. Hubert’s poulet in Quebec.

Indigenous people 

pemmican, bannock, maple syrup, birch syrup, salmon candy

Cultural influences

Jamaican patties, Trinidadian doubles, Eastern European perogies, British fish and chips, Italian pizza, Greek shawarma, Middle Eastern falafel, Japanese sushi and some rendition of Chinese food

Iconic foods

poutine, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts


Nanaimo bar trail and the peach festival in BC; butter tart trail in Ontario; vineyard tours in BC and Ontario; chowder trail, Bud the Spud chip truck and Chickenburger in Nova Scotia; PEI lobster supper; various summer food festivals across the country


Saskatoon berries, Ontario macintosh apples, BC cherries, Nova Scotia blueberries, Newfoundland bakeapple, partridge and crowberries; berries and stone fruit in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia; Taber corn

And try Ricardo’s (Quebec chef) sugar pie recipe


Canada 150 – Of butter and tarts

How fitting that the inaugural post for the July 2017 series, Canada 150, falls on Sugar Saturday. Just as well I made mini Nanaimo bar doughnuts and butter tarts for the occasion. (Oh and for something healthy, I cut watermelon in the shape of maple leaves.)

So what is Canadian cuisine anyway? Clay figurines?

Canadian cuisine, like Canadian identity, is hard to pinpoint to an iconic word or phrase. Like the land and its people, Canadian cuisine is diverse, regional and seasonal. It makes use of local and imported ingredients and has been influenced by the Indigenous population and the many immigrants from various places around the world who have been coming here from the 1600s onwards. A Jamaican patty (usually made with toned down spices) is as much a part of the Canadian culinary experience as maple syrup on pancakes with blueberries. And even when we can agree on what is classically Canadian, ie the butter tart, we can’t agree on what it should be like. Raisins, pecans or plain? Corn syrup or maple syrup? Lard in the dough or vegetable fat? Runny filling or firm? There’s even debate as to who has the real butter tart trail: Wellington north or Kawartha Lakes? And agreement on the origins isn’t unanimous either. Was it created by the filles du roy (daughters of the King) who were sent to help populate the new France colony of Québec, developed from a pecan pie recipe brought here from the Americans or concocted by early pioneer cooks? It’s likely the recipe for the butter tart most well-known today has been around since the 1900s.

The butter tart is an individual tart made with flaky pastry and filled with a cooked mixture of egg, butter, vanilla, salt, vinegar and two types of sugar, wet and dry. Much like many Canadians, it is said to be a fusion of diverse origins, makes use of a local ingredient (maple syrup) and is oft associated with Ontario. From butter tart festivals to butter tart innovations there is no shortage of butter tarts in the Canadian narrative.

For the quintessential go-to butter tart recipe, I’m going with my girl Anna. Feel free to omit the raisins and pecans. I do. And for some creative renditions of the butter tart, see 20 Great Canadian Butter Tart Recipes.


July Special – Oh Canada! Yukaflux

Yukaflux or Saskie sangria is a concoction made with leftover alcohol and fruit. Though kitchen sinks and pails have been used as vessels, a hulled out watermelon will do nicely (you may have to wrestle a Roughriders* fan for one). And while this is a good way to use up any and all types of leftover alcohol and fruits, the combination of well-paired in season fruit and wine and/or spirits is more palatable. Leave the mixture to marinate so the sugar and sweetness of the fruits infuse with the alcohol.

* The Saskatchewan Roughriders are a professional football team in the CFL (Canadian Football League). Their fans are known for wearing watermelons on their heads. Yes real ones.

Take the Saskie away from the sangria and create regionally inspired versions of Yukaflux.

  • Watermelon and any alcohol and fruit you can find for a Roughriders tailgate party. Make sure to include Saskatoon berries.
  • Ontario ice wine with Ontario grown strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries for a Canada day party.
  • Nova Scotia blueberries and apples with spirits from the Ironworks Distillery. Perhaps a strawberry rhubarb liqueur with apple brandy? Serve at a garden party.
  • BC peaches, apricots and nectarines with local BC wine. Serve at a mountaintop picnic after a long hike.
  • Newfoundland screech rum with cloudberries, partridge berries, crowberries and bake apple. Drink with sailors in St. John’s.

The Ironworks Distillery is located in the world heritage town of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. Check out their online shop:

Check out an upscale recipe for Yukaflux from the Toronto star newspaper online: