International Cooking: Food from Canada

I was excited to cook food from Canada mostly because I felt it would feel a little more ‘normal’ to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring different cuisines, but sometimes it’s nice to have something a little more familiar.

I was surprised to find that my post to the Canadian subreddit got rejected by the moderators. I checked, as I always do, that my post was within the subreddit’s guidelines. Besides, Canadians are supposed to be nice! But my post was rejected anyway so Canadians didn’t get a say in what I made to represent their country.


Canada is a large North American country that was inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years. British and French explorers discovered the country in the 16th century and began to settle along the Atlantic coast.

Due to a series of armed conflicts, France ceded most of its colonies in North America in 1763. In 1867, Canada slowly began to increase their autonomy from the United Kingdom, culminating in the Canada Act 1982, which ended their legal dependence on the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Nowadays, Canada is a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, along with many other former British territories.

What Do People Eat in Canada?

Modern Canadian cuisine is largely a result of indigenous cooking influenced by French, English, and Scottish cuisine. Local ingredients are commonly used, including a large range of seafood.

It’s hard to really define Canadian cuisine as a whole, because there are so many varied dishes resulting from different influences, and meals vary from region to region. I noticed that the French and British influences seem to be pretty strong in many dishes.

Maple syrup is probably one of the ingredients most people think of when they think of Canada. It was first collected and used by the indigenous people of Eastern Canada and the northeastern United States and is one of the most commonly consumed Canadian foods of aboriginal origin.

There were a few things I wanted to make this week but didn’t. I would have loved to make a lobster roll, which is a popular Canadian dish, but I just didn’t feel I could justify the price of the lobster meat. I would also have loved to make Montreal-style bagels, but I did not get around to it. I’ll try making them some day!

What I Made

Scroll down to read about other popular Canadian dishes I didn’t make!

Ployes (Buckwheat Pancakes)

Ployes

Ployes are simple pancakes made from buckwheat flour, wheat flour, baking soda, and water. They were invented in Nova Scotia and their popularity spread across Canada and into some US states such as Maine. They can be served with baked beans or topped with maple syrup for breakfast, or they can accompany a soup or stew.

These pancakes only get cooked on one side, and the top ends up full of little holes, a bit like a crumpet. The recipe I used didn’t include any time or temperature instructions so it took me a few ployes until I felt I got them right. I also realize I didn’t use the right kind of buckwheat flour, which is why mine are this dark grey/brown color rather than golden, like most of the photos of ployes online. I would probably have had to go online to get the correct buckwheat since what I bought was the only kind the supermarket had.

I topped my ployes with butter and maple syrup and I thought they were really good.

The recipe I used is from Food.com.

London Fog (Earl Grey Latte)

London Fog tea

A London Fog is a mix of Earl Grey tea, milk, honey, and a touch of vanilla. It was a hot day when I made this, and the recipe I used gave options for both a regular hot version and an iced version, so I chose the latter. This was so simple but really good. I did make the hot version later in the week, which was also delicious. This is probably going to be something I enjoy on a regular basis.

I used a recipe from Gimme Some Oven, but I didn’t follow it exactly. I used it as a guide, and I did not include the lavender, which I think is a deviation from the original version.

Poutine (Fries with Gravy and Cheese Curds)

Poutine

I think most people, particularly in the US, would be familiar with poutine, even if they haven’t had it before. It’s a simple dish consisting of fries, cheese curds, and gravy.

I was unable to find cheese curds, something I suspected would be the case after learning real curds have a very short shelf life. I considered trying to make them myself, because I know some cheeses, like ricotta, are pretty easy to make. But making authentic cheese curds is actually a whole proper cheese-making process so I didn’t do it. Instead, I substituted with chunks of mozzarella cheese.

I followed a recipe from Seasons and Suppers, though I cheated and used store bought fries. So I mostly was using the recipe for the gravy, which turned out really well. The whole dish was delicious, but I knew it would be.

Hawaiian Pizza (Ham and Pineapple Pizza)

Hawaiian pizza

Despite the name, Hawaiian pizza was actually developed in the Canadian province of Ontario. Most people will be familiar with the toppings, which typically include a tomato-based pizza sauce, ham, pineapple, and cheese.

I used my favorite pizza base recipe from King Arthur Flour, and just added my usual homemade pizza sauce, mozzarella, ham, and pineapple. It was alright; I don’t have anything against pineapple on pizza like I know some people do, but these aren’t my favorite pizza toppings.

Chicken Fricot (Chicken with Dumplings)

Chicken fricot

Chicken fricot is a stew featuring chicken, onions, carrots, potatoes, and dumplings, seasoned with summer savory. It most likely originated in France, but it has evolved to become a popular Canadian dish. It was simple to make and tasted really good.

I used the recipe from Chicken.ca.

Butter Tarts

Butter tarts

I’ve wanted to try butter tarts for a while and was happy to finally have a good excuse. The filling is mostly sugar and maple syrup, with an egg and a bit of butter, vanilla, and vinegar. Some people like to include raisins or nuts, but I didn’t use either.

I used the recipe from Epicurious and followed it exactly (I didn’t even halve the recipe) but my tarts overflowed in the oven so they were difficult to get out. I had some pastry leftover, so next time I think I would bring it up higher on the sides of the cupcake tin to make it less likely they overflow.

They don’t look very pretty, but they were so delicious that even my husband liked them!

  • Rappie pie – a casserole-like dish made by baking a mixture of grated potato, chicken, broth, and onions.
  • Tourtière – a French Canadian meat pie, usually filled with potatoes and minced pork, veal, or beef.
  • Bannock – a type of fry bread that originated in Scotland. It was adopted by the Indigenous people of Canada and became very popular. It’s made from flour, baking powder, sugar, lard, and water or milk, which is kneaded and usually formed into a fairly flat shape before frying. Sometimes flavorings such as spices or dried fruit are added.
  • Montreal-style bagels – smaller, thinner, sweet, and denser than New York-style bagels. They have a large hole and are always baked in a wood-fired oven.
  • Beaver tails – pastries made from dough shaped to resemble beaver tails. They are served hot and can have a variety of toppings, such as whipped cream and cinnamon sugar. Savory versions are also available.
  • Nanaimo bars – a no-bake dessert consisting of three layers. The base is made from graham crackers, nuts, and coconut, in the middle is a custard buttercream, and the topping is chocolate ganache.

Final Thoughts

This was a great week; I thoroughly enjoyed all the food from Canada. I just wish I could have got some input from Canadians since I think I could have had a better selection of dishes. I think my favorite thing was the butter tarts!

Next week, I will be cooking food from the Central African Republic.

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