About Canadian Food

Canada is so much more than igloos and icicles. We’re talking about the second largest country in the world, after all.

Canadian food reflects the tastes of a people living in a landscape as varied as it is massive. There are foggy fishing villages on the eastern shore, towering, razor sharp mountains to the west, and a breathtaking expanse of plains within the heart of this great country. Peppered with about two million lakes, there’s no end to the wildlife and fish available.

The country is experiencing a similar real food movement to the United States, celebrating local produce, farmers and manufacturers in an effort to support local economy. The effect on the food scene includes restaurants featuring many farmstand delights, such as local cheese, fruits and vegetables, like sweet blueberries, tart cranberries, and juicy summertime tomatoes served in dishes like Butter-Roasted Tomatoes.

Some prized locally grown products include wild rice and fiddlehead ferns. Canadian wild rice is black as night and at least three times as long as regular rice (a very distant cousin). As addictive as it is beautiful, the elegant grain carries nutty, wholesome flavor when cooked with a little thyme (recipe). Bright green, tightly coiled fiddlehead ferns also make their way into many Canadian dishes, from stir-fries to soups. Once only a springtime delicacy, this tender green has become so popular that Canadian markets keep their freezer sections well stocked year-round.

Pure, unadulterated maple syrup is another Canadian specialty, oozing its way into countless cookies, confections, cakes, and breakfast treats – not to mention as a marinade for savory grilled meats (Canadian Dijon & Maple Grilled Chicken).

. The most unique recipe utilizing this amber gold is called Grandpa’s Maple Dumplings (Grandpères), which is made by simmering dough until tender in a bath of maple syrup. Absolutely incredible.

While fish are incredibly popular in Canada, farmers also raise cows, chickens, and pigs for standard meat and potato meals, like roasts with gravy or meat pies. More indigenous meats, like caribou, elk, buffalo, and seal blubber are also available regionally and are particularly prized by the Inuit, Canada’s original settlers.

With a thriving immigrant population, Canada eats a variety of French, Italian, German, Chinese and Indian dishes. There are even a great number of fast food chains and convenience stores. Poutine, French fries covered in a sloppy mess of gravy and cheese curds is often served as the quintessential Canadian meal (even at their McDonalds), however one must remember the variety of the landscape to realize how difficult it is to narrow down the cuisine of Canada to just one dish.


  1. Kay from Toronto says

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose! As a Canadian who has travelled coast to coast more than once, and who lives in the most ethnically diverse city in the world, I have to say it would be really hard for you to go wrong! So no pressure, have some fun. Love your blog.

    • globaltable says

      Thanks Kay! I didn’t know Toronto was the most ethnically diverse city in the world. How interesting! This is a fun week – I’ve already learned a lot about Canada I didn’t know.

  2. I like the way you said “Peppered with about two million lakes” – I can imagine a giant pepper shaker peppering down lakes on Canada ; )

    I have never been in Canada except before I was born when my parents took a trip to MN and Canada ; )

    • globaltable says

      Thanks Jill! About your trip to Canada – I had a similar trip to Samoa in my mom’s womb. 🙂

  3. Yeah…at last – a country I recognize…I actually know where it is without looking at a map…and – I can pronounce the name !!

  4. Linda Bladholm says

    Canada always seems so overshadowed by The US but it has great cities, people and food–and wildlife, national parks of great beauty and international cuisine. Toronto has a huge Asian area and also Indian where on Canada’s Thanksgiving (earlier than ours on Oct. 12th) one year I enjoyed a wonderful Indian meal. It is a shame that poutine is often considered the national dish.B ut Canadians spread it–I just tried some at restaurant with kebabs and wraps in Georgetown, Cayman islands, owned, natch by two Canadians.

    • Suzanne B says

      Poutine is French-Canadian. It is NOT our national dish although many people enjoy this heart attack on a plate. It began as a cheap meal during cold Winter months when high calorie (and carb) count was needed to be energetic. I have never had poutine. No one in my family has had poutine. We have relatives that are potato farmers on Prince Edward Island that have never had poutine. Just saying. Oh, most folks don’t eat Wild Rice as it’s very expensive here.

      As a result of the multi-ethnic population of Canada we enjoy every cuisine on the planet. Canada is a country that welcomes diversity and celebrates difference. The United States approach is that of a “melting pot” where you blend in. They are not so celebratory regarding differences. I am an International Cuisine Chef living in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. I have traveled to many parts of the world and enjoyed local dishes of unparalleled ingredients. THANK YOU for bringing your BLOG/SITE to others. I look forward to more of your adventures. (Side note: you should probably change Mr. Picky to Mr. Possible as he seems quite adventurous to me.)

      Suzanne in Kelowna (google it, we’re the only one on the planet!)

  5. I picked up a book that was part travel book and part receipe book on Canada. Since I AM a Canadian, I was curious to see what kind of food they had. When they talked about the prairies, they had stuff I have never eaten in my life. No one in my family or my circle of friends have eaten bear stew, but now I have a receipe for it.

    • globaltable says

      Wow! Bear stew… that’s incredible 🙂 The question remains, will you ever make it? And if so, how will it taste?

      • Oddly enough, I’ve never seen bear meat sold at the grocery store (and I lived there for 26 years), so it’s hard to say if I’ll ever make it. Maybe, I’d try substituting buffalo or elk and seeing how it goes. I imagine it would be just the thing on a winter’s day.

        • globaltable says

          Yes, I bet it is pretty strong flavored but not too lean (all that hibernating!) 🙂

  6. L'Abeille says

    Too bad you can’t have moose. Or fiddleheads. Or lobster. But all the really good stuff has such a short season, which I guess makes us appreciate it more.

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