In lieu of our recent holiday to celebrate Canada as a country, I thought I would weigh in on what foods are distinctly Canadian and what it says about our culture.
1. Maple Syrup - For me, the unprecedented top of the list is maple syrup. Having grown up helping in my grandfathers ‘sugar bush’, boiling sap and tasting fresh hot syrup has been an essential part of my childhood. To be truly Canadian, it is a treat to make ‘Snow Taffy”, which is to pour hot maple syrup on (clean) snow, wait until it hardens and enjoy! There is a thousand ways to enjoy this national sweetener, but my favourite is still on top on fresh pancakes.
2. Bannok – Having lived in Northern Ontario for a number of summers, this flat bread became a staple of summer time. Made with minimal ingredients, it is easy to take on a Canadian summer camping trip. My favourite way to make it while spending time outdoors is Bannok-on-a-stick, which is exactly how it sounds. Take the bread mixture, wrap it around a clean stick and ‘roast’ it over the fire. Here is the Recipe.
3. Poutine: Recreating this artery-clogging treat was not difficult growing up as I lived with a cheese factory down the road. Our fresh Canadian cheese curds are a source of national pride as we scarf down a meal that is not for the faint hearted.
4. Fresh Fish: There have been many summer where I portage lakes until I am in the calm, middle of no where and those who accompany me catch fish that have clean, white skin. (For the record, I have never caught a fish in my life). Tasting fresh fish with a maple syrup glaze makes me more grateful than ever to call Canada my home.
I do not want to discount of course the bountiful amounts of fruits and vegetables that our local farmers provide all year round, such as fresh corn on the cob and strawberries. I do want to say a piece about what these foods say about us.
In my research, I repeatedly stumbled across claims that Canada’s national food is…Kraft Dinner. I chose not to include it because Canada is known for being a large country full of natural resources and wild life and each of these foods have a rich history. Our maple syrup and fish come from natural resources, our bannock was created by our Aboriginal peoples in order to survive our long winters and Poutine was invented in Quebec to give cheese the showcase it deserves. So take time this summer to enjoy some of our distinctly Canadian foods (other than Kraft Dinner of course).
What do you think our national foods say about us?