9 Iconic Canadian Foods
What do people think of when they think of Canadian food? We’d bet that they imagine something from this list.
A Nanaimo bar, presumably named for the city on Vancouver Island, has three things: a base of coconut and graham cracker crumbs, custard in the middle, and a hard chocolate top. Just don’t mess up the ratio, as the New York Times did earlier this year. Besides, who doesn’t want more custard in their lives?
Butter, pastry, sugar—what’s not to love? Ideally gooey in the middle and caramelized on the bottom, butter tarts are another holiday favourite. Some people include raisins, pecans, or walnuts—but that’s an argument waiting to happen. A delicious, delicious argument.
Peameal Bacon Sandwiches
Once the most iconic sandwich of Toronto, there are only a few places serving peameal bacon sandwiches anymore. But peameal bacon is still uniquely Canadian, and the peameal bacon sandwich sees dozens of variations from restaurants around Toronto. But it’s still pretty easy to make your own.
This French-Canadian pie is beloved across Canada, especially during Christmas time. But it’s one of those foods where every grandma has a different way of making it, and people like to argue over what should and shouldn’t go into a tourtière. It always has a pastry top and bottom, often includes ground veal or pork, and is frequently seasoned with cloves and cinnamon. But, as we said, everyone has a different take on it. Check out this one from chef David Haman.
Montreal Smoked Meat
Is it pastrami? No, it’s better. Salted, cured, hot-smoked, and then steamed, Montreal smoked meat is so tender it falls apart, so flavourful the only condiment that can stand up to it is mustard and so rich that all the extra richness will run down your fingers. Any day you eat a Montreal smoked meat sandwich and chase it with a pickle spear is a great day.
This Indigenous bread is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Baked or fried, bannock can be used as a base for all kinds of sweet or savoury dishes, including the ever-popular Indian taco. Of course, if you grew up eating it, bannock is just fine on its own.
You can’t see a Caesar and not want a Caesar. Americans like to say that this mix of vodka, tomato juice, clam juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and spices is basically a Bloody Mary. But the addition of clam juice makes it different, so there.
Is there a more iconic Canadian food? We eat it from Vancouver to St. John’s, from Toronto to Calgary—but anyone who knows anything knows that poutine is from Québec City. That said, you can get excellent poutine in a lot of places in Canada, and they’re even eating it in food-obsessed cities around the world like Hong Kong, New York, and London. But non-Canadians, listen up: If the cheese curds don’t squeak against your teeth as you bite into them, you aren’t eating real poutine.
We’re not being cheeky. The Walrus argues that Kraft dinner is Canada’s one true national food.