Canada’s population is strongly multi-ethnic, and the nation’s diet reflects this, having North American, European, Asian and Mediterranean influences. It’s also a country that’s very fond of eating in restaurants, so home cooked food may be more traditional, but what people eat when they go out may be more exotic.
Ultimate poutine. © Joshua Bousel (view the recipe).
A westerner’s diet
Canadians eat a westernized diet, though, with plenty of meat and processed foods like dairy products and grains. There’s a lot of fruit and vegetables too, but it has to be said that the quality of the fresh food is variable at best. Canadians tend to buy fruit and vegetables according to how it looks, rather than how it tastes. The Canadian diet also contains a bit too much salt, fat and sugar, although there are good indications that the populace is getting a grip on this.
What do Canadians have for breakfast?
Canadian butter tarts. © BBC Good Food (view the recipe).
Breakfast can be a serious affair in Canada, as it’s the meal that provides the calories and goods for the day. These days, too many Canadians are neglecting breakfast, making do with cereal and toast instead, but ideally, a Canadian breakfast should be a showstopper. We’re talking eggs – scrambled or fried, sausages, bacon, hash browns or fries, toast (sometimes French toast fried in beaten egg), sweet pancakes, maple syrup (this is one of THE best known foods to come out of Canada) and porridge. You can take your pick of these items, or, if you’re really going for it, have a bit of everything (if your heart can handle it, that is!).
How about lunch?
Lunch tends to be a light sort of meal. It’s generally eaten around noon, and very often at work. This lifestyle has caused the average Canadian lunch to be something like sandwiches, soups or noodles. Canadians often nip out to a nearby diner for lunch, and again, this tends to be something quick and light, whatever the nationality of the food. Weekend lunches are a bit more complicated and take longer to cook, like roasts and stews.
Baked beaver tail. © Jenn and Jac (view the recipe).
What’s for dinner?
Dinner, or supper, is the main meal of the day, and the one that the most care is taken over. It’s hard to sum up a typical Canadian dinner – meat is the focus of the meal, so think of pork chops, lamb chops, chicken breast, burgers, mincemeat, beefsteak and so on. These meats are served with a side dish which is generally centered around potatoes or another starchy food, like rice or pasta. There are usually vegetables, but these are often workaday offerings like peas and carrots. For special occasions there’ll be big green salads, with peppers and avocado, for example.
Unique Canadian Foods
There are some foods that are immediately recognizable as Canadian, though, but these tend to be ingredients – like the ubiquitous maple syrup. Some well-known Canadian dishes that you might not see outside Canada include poutine, which is not for the faint-hearted! It’s basically French fries covered in gravy and chunks of white curd cheese. You may also like to try ketchup flavored chips – something of an acquired taste, but apparently, many Canadians living abroad miss them! Slightly more challenging for the arteries is a butter tart. This is a flan-type dessert made with a mixture of butter, baked cream and raisins inside a flaky pastry shell.
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