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


Meatless Monday – Alchemy to the Rescue!

My own brand of recipe alchemy intervenes in Cuban cuisine. This Meatless Monday post makes over some signature Cuban food into a healthier vegetarian/vegan version.

  • cucuruchoa dessert made with nuts, fruit, coconut and honey.
    Described as ambrosia-like this dessert can be quite cloying and the addition of honey renders it non-vegan. The make-over? Apart from substituting honey with an alternative liquid sweetener and reducing the amount of it not much else needs to be done to make this dessert ‘healthy.’ Try a fruit salad approach by drizzling a minute amount of agave or maple syrup over top of fresh seasonal fruit, freshly grated coconut (store-bought shredded coconut will work too) and sprouted nuts.
  • chorote – a breakfast drink made with chocolate, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and corn or cassava flour (helps make drink rich and thick)
    Chocolate for breakfast?! Yes please! I can get used to this but the added sugar diminishes the nutritional value of the other ingredients. The make-over? Omit the sugar, substitute the flour with a vanilla flavoured vegan protein powder and make sure to use unsweetened dark chocolate with a minimum 70% cacao content. If you have coconut milk powder, use a few teaspoons and combine with 200 mL of water and the other ingredients over medium heat until the chocolate is melted. No coconut milk powder? No problem. Just use reduced coconut milk instead. Or use half water and half reduced coconut milk to lower the fat content yet maintain a rich creamy taste.
  • Moros y Cristianossimply beans and rice
    Often made with black beans, white rice and some sort of animal stock, this dish is easily made healthier and vegetarian. The make-over? Use vegetable stock (or mushroom for a more ‘meaty’ impersonation) and whole grain rice instead of white. Reduce the amount of oil and salt normally called for in the recipe by at least half to up the health quotient. See ‘authentic’ recipe here.
  • Cuban sandwichham and cheese on white
    Spotted everywhere, this sandwich seemed to be the street food of Cuba. The make-over? Clearly get rid of the ham! Substitute it with baked seitan, tempeh or tofu in a marinade of pineapple juice, sodium-reduced soy sauce, a little liquid smoke, a bit of oil and a pinch of ground cloves. Use a smoked vegetarian or vegan cheese and build your vegetarian/vegan Cuban sandwich on two thinly sliced pieces of whole grain bread. Or use just one slice if you would prefer less bread.


See our sister site Weal World Travel for some background info on food in Cuba: Nutrition & Travel: Cuba

Canada Day Special – Would You Like Poutine with That?

Does Canada have a national dish? One that typifies this country and unifies its people? Some would argue poutine; however, poutine is a Quebec invention and there is a segment of the Quebec population who have wanted to separate from the rest of Canada (and to be truthful a section of the English-speaking population who would also like the same. The English-French rivalry still carries over from the Old World to the New World…)

Canada is a vast expanse of regions, territories and geographic and demographic variety. The food reflects this too. Maple syrup you say? Well maple trees are native to Quebec and Ontario and do not grow in Western Canada. (With modern technology, though, anything can grow anywhere.) On the coasts it’s all about the fish (cod to the east, salmon to the west, Arctic char to the north) and in the landlocked provinces it’s all about the beef. Fruit is regional and very seasonal too. So other than European imports like pizza and fish and chips, is there a food that all Canadians eat and embrace as part of the Canadian experience? I would suggest it’s poutine though there are some other strong contenders (e.g. butter tarts, Nanaimo bars and dare I say/type it…bacon).

Poutine is simply a dish of french fries covered in gravy and squeaky cheese curds. You can get all fancy, as some do (Montreal Poutine), but nothing beats the classic: tasty potatoes layered in salt and fat. Mmm…

For our top (and only) poutine posts, click here.

Apparently the McDonald’s restaurant chain has come out with their own version of poutine. I guess their famous prescribed phrase will no longer just be “would you like fries with that?”