Winning Wednesdays: What is Canadian cuisine?
Is it regional cooking, unique ingredients, or a bland version of American food?
An early Winning Wednesdays post: Here’s a multiple choice question. Answer for a chance to win a new cookbook (and check back next Wednesday for another giveaway).
What defines Canadian cuisine?
1. It’s a collection of regional cuisines. There’s no unifying national cuisine, but we have several regions with their own, distinct cooking style: Newfoundland, the Maritimes, Quebec, Waterloo County.
2. It’s a smorgasbord of imported cuisines from around the world. Waves of immigrants bring their own food heritage here, overlaid on First Nations foods, and all Canadians pick and choose, mix and match from the buffet.
3. It’s food based on Canadian ingredients: maple syrup, saskatoon berries, cod tongues, fiddleheads, cranberries, game, and more. Foods you can’t easily find elsewhere, except for a little spillover into the northern US.
4. It’s a variant of North American cuisine with distinct Canadian–or maybe regional–dishes: butter tarts, poutine, seal-flipper pie, Nanaimo bars. These are foods most Canadians know about, even if all of us don’t eat them.
5. All of the above.
6. None of the above, or as Colonel Sanders described in a radio interview, Canadian food is just American food, but blander.
I’ll pick the tactful (so Canadian) answer: Number 5, all of the above. But Number 2 appeals to me as well–other countries have local ingredients and signature dishes, but what seems uniquely Canadian is the way we adopt foods from all over the world into our everyday fare. Souvlaki, sushi, bratwurst, tacos (real ones, not the chain variety)–all are foods that were once unusual, but have quickly become common and almost unremarkable. Canada takes the exotic out of international foods.
This Friday, I’ll be helping a friend with her annual Canada Day barbecue. Her background is Irish, and her menu includes tandoori chicken, souvlaki, and marinated shrimp. Multiculturalism will be delicious.
What will you be cooking for Canada Day? How do you define Canadian cuisine? Post a comment here by the end of Wednesday and I’ll draw one winner who’ll receive a copy of 3 Chefs: The Kitchen Men. This cookbook features recipes by Michael Bonacini, Massimo Capra, and Jason Parsons. You’ll recognize the trio–all immigrants to Canada–from Citytv’s Cityline.