Is Canada a Nation Without a Food Identity?

Let’s go out for Canadian tonight. Not exactly a phrase you hear when people are planning a night out for dinner. Canada is definitely not known for its unique cuisine, however its diverse culture is exactly what makes it stand out on the world stage.

Be it French fine dining in Montreal, Thai Food in downtown Toronto or Chinese in Vancouver, you will find that each country has taken the best ingredients from home and left the worst behind to make dining a pleasure in Canadian restaurants.

However, Canada does have a few staple foods to call its own. What tourist doesn’t go home with a jar of Maple syrup or a box of smoked sockeye salmon in their carry on luggage? Canadian back bacon is famous throughout the world, albeit nobody knows what the difference is from regular bacon. And the Quebec dish known as poutine is gaining in popularity. French fries draped with cheese curds and gravy creating a gooey mess is sinfully delicious.

Every province has an entree or two that is unique to its region. Others may eat Lobster, but in New Brunswick this crustacean is a way of life. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that there is a better lobster in the world than what comes out of Canada’s Atlantic Coast. Head to any tourist destination in Quebec and you can be sure to see people munching on Beaver Tails. No, they are not what you think they are, these delectable treats are made of fried dough shaped in the form of a beavers tail and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

Canada’s Prairie Provinces are known for their grains and wheat but they have one dish that they can truly call their own. The Winnipeg Goldeye is a silver fish found in Manitoba’s lakes and rivers that turns red when it is smoked. Go out to the west coast and sample their delicious Nanaimo Bars. Named after the British Columbian town, this dessert made of chocolate consists of a wafer crumb-based with a layer of vanilla butter icing covered in anther layer of melted chocolate. They may be called a different name somewhere else, but rest assured, they were invented in Canada.

Ontario has a harder time defining itself than others. The most populace province in the country, it is also the most culturally diverse. Every sort of ethnic and international food will show up on the menu. The most crowded restaurants in town don’t have a thing to do with being Canadian. But you can be sure that most people are drinking Molson Canadian Beer. Canadians pride themselves on their beer. They like to think that their beer is superior to their southern neighbour’s watery brew. As a matter of fact, they think that their beer is superior to everyone’s. Canadians just can’t figure out why the rest of the world doesn’t feel the same way.

Most people will agree that Canada does not have a unique identity when it comes to cuisine. Other than a handful of recipes, most dishes that Canadians eat come from different countries. Everyone loves Italian pasta and pizza; Indian food is a popular night out, and almost all households order in Chinese regularly.

The same can be said for Canada’s national identity. Canada is one of the few countries in the world made up of immigrants and settlers making it a true melting pot of cultures and cuisine. When describing Canadian food, the only true distinguishing character is that there isn’t one.

BOLA TANGKAS