Bon Appétit, Canada

In our recent posts, we have been learning about studying in Canada, especially studying English. This week, it is time to turn our attention to the most important thing that you, as an international student, might be wondering about in Canada; which is of course:  What do you eat?   

Yes, we are going to talk about Canadian food! 

I have lived in several countries over the years and the one question about Canada that is toughest to answer is – What is Canadian food?  

For many nations, food is essential to cultural identity. For Canada, like many countries that were colonized by Britain, it WASN’T. Food was just a means of survival. Essentially, for a long time, Canadians were meat and potatoes people, actually, an overcooked-meat-undercooked-potatoes people! The food traditions we did have (Turkey at Christmas for example, roast beef on Sunday etc.) came to Canada from Europe.  

So Salmon is good in Canada, but it is not a purely Canadian food. Excellent maple syrup comes from eastern Canada, and you will find delicious doughnuts all across this country but are these really foods? Do you sit down for a dish of delicious maple syrup? 

As an international student, you may be convinced that Canadians eat only pizza slices, burgers, sandwiches and chicken wings. This is largely true but I am happy to report that there are some very Canadian foods that you, the international student, will find only in Canada.  

We must start at Canada’s staple, which is Kraft Dinner. You may be thinking “Kraft macaroni and cheese is in many countries and it’s not Canadian – and you would be right, but it is not Kraft Dinner which is only sold and consumed (in enormous volumes) in Canada. Kraft Dinner was invented in 1912 by a Canadian-American entrepreneur named JL Kraft. Other countries would later sell Kraft macaroni and cheese, but they are different from what is eaten in Canada. Real Kraft Dinner will always have an unnatural but extremely pleasant, almost festive orange glow. It is best mixed with ketchup but can be eaten in an endless variety of ways. I lived abroad for a large part of my life and my care packages from my mom always included Kraft Dinner. This is true of many Canadians who find themselves living overseas.  

Second on our all-Canadian food list would be Quebec’s greatest contribution to Canadian cuisine and the bank accounts of heart surgeons throughout the country, Poutine

Poutine is french fries with gravy and cheese curds and is eaten everywhere in Canada, in fact, it is even sold in all the big fast-food restaurants like McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King. 

But don’t get it there. The best poutine is in Montreal which is also a wonderful city to visit. So go there now. Take my car.  

Third of the truly Canadian food is Hawkins Cheezies. It may seem to some this is the same as the internationally known Cheetos, but that tiger is a false prophet! Cheetos are a sad, artificial concoction, filled with fake flavours and an empty soul. Hawkins cheezies on the other hand are a taste sensation made from real cheese, corn, and salt. Maybe a little too much salt but still, no two cheezies are alike and they are especially good if refrigerated.

And one more truly Canadian food:  The Ketchup Chip. As you travel the world you will notice almost every country has a flavour of chips found nowhere else. A flavour that reflects the country’s food traditions in Canada and in no other country you will find the absolutely fantastic, must-try ketchup chip. 

These three are the main examples of truly Canadian food but no blog on Canadian food would be complete without mentioning the foods that you can eat in various parts of Canada. Watch out for our next on ‘regional’ food!