From the Pacific to the Atlantic, and everything in between, Canada’s offers a variety of unique dishes—as diverse as the country’s landscape. Some recipes date back centuries and are rooted in the traditions of First Nations communities, while others are only decades old and have much more mysterious origins. With a wide range of sweet and savoury, there’s sure to be something to please your palate.
Fried Atlantic cod tongue is a delicacy in Newfoundland and Labarador. It is generally cut into bite-size pieces before it is breaded and fried. The tongue (in fact, a small muscle from the neck of the fish) is often served with scrunchions—nuggets of fried pork fat and salt. Though it was once found in abundance, it has become luxury since Canada introduced a moratorium on cod fishing in the 1990s.
Don’t be fooled by the Prairie oysters you’ll find on menus in the landlocked plains of Western Canada—the term actually refers to calf testicles. To create this famous dish, farmers castrate calves to control their stock, providing a source for some unique cowboy cuisine. The testicles can be served in a variety of chef-inspired ways, including sautéed, grilled, or battered and fried.
The birthplace of the poutine is contested amongst several communities in Quebec. The combination of French fries and cheese curds topped with warm gravy dates back to as early as the 1950s. Since then, there have been a variety of new takes on the traditional French-Canadian dish: caramelized onions, bacon, sliced sausage, and Montreal-style smoked meat are just a few examples of toppings that have been added.
This deep-dish meat pie dates back the 17th century—a pre-Confederation Canada when Quebec was known as Lower Canada. It can be made with diced pork or beef, and often includes wild game. The meat is usually seasoned with allspice, cloves, and/or cinnamon. On the coast, fish is sometimes incorporated. For many French-Canadian families, tourtière is a Christmas tradition.
Bannock is a simple bread traditionally made by First Nations and Inuit communities with corn and nut meal, and flour made of ground roots. (It is different than Scottish bannock, made of barley or oats.) Bannock can be cooked in a pit, rock oven, or over an open fire on sticks. Today, it is mainly deep-fried. For a modern spin, try a bannock burger.
Did you know that the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, took its name from the purplish-blue berry that used to grow in abundance in the region? Various North American Indian tribes traditionally used the berry to make Pemmican, a dried meat, like bison, elk, or deer, that is pounded and mixed with fat and berries. Different species of the berries are known as juneberries, serviceberries, shadberries, bilberry, and Indian pear. The berries are used to make various desserts, including pie and jam.
The three-layer dessert featuring a wafer crumb base, a butter icing filling, and a chocolate finish was supposedly invented in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The sweet treat has evolved with recipes that call for different types of fillings, including mocha, mint, and even peanut butter. Nanaimo, a seaside city on Vancouver Island, invites visitors to take the Nanaimo Bar Trail, with more than 30 stops featuring different varieties of the dessert.
Its leaf is the iconic image on our flag, but it’s the sap inside maple trees that can be reduced to the sweet syrup we use to flavour everything from pancakes and whisky to meat and fish. First Nations people taught settlers how to tap the trees and boil the sap down to a concentrated golden syrup. It takes about 40 litres of sap to make a single litre of syrup. Canada produces 85 percent of the world’s maple syrup, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Of that 85 percent, producers are concentrated in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
We may be known as a nation of beer drinkers—and with good reason—but Canada is also the birthplace the Caesar, a tangy cocktail popular in brunch circles. A Calgary bar manager who had been tasked with creating a signature cocktail for an Italian restaurant invented it in 1969. Walter Chell drew inspiration from a spaghetti and clam dish on the menu, mixing vodka with tomato juice and mashed clams, and seasoning it with Italian oregano and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce. Originally garnished with a stick of celery, it was called the Roman Emperor.]]>
Oh, we know that our neighbours to the south look at us with surprise when we announce that we’re prepping for Thanksgiving before Halloween. Sure, their four-day weekend is awesome. And then there’s all that football! (Even though the CFL has a Thanksgiving Day Classic, it’s not quite the same).
But really, there are a few advantages to celebrating turkey day a little earlier than the fourth Thursday in November. Here are some of the best.
1. We can celebrate at the cottage. Cottage in October? Crisp, cool and beautiful. Cottage at the end of November? Potentially snowy and downright frigid. Take your pick.
2. We can enjoy the leaves. Instead of falling into a turkey coma after dinner, celebrating Thanksgiving in October means we can take a walk with the family, admiring the lovely fall foliage—much nicer than squashing through slush or staring at a blizzard out the window.
3. Our day of gratitude isn’t followed by a frenzy of blatant consumerism. Yeah, that’s always seemed a little weird to us. Take a day to feel grateful, then spend the next day trampling strangers for a big screen. Having Thanksgiving in October allows us to really savour what matters most: friends, family, and our good fortune. Plus, we don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn the day after our big feast.
4. We get a break between turkey meals. Oh, we like turkey and all the trimmings. But having Thanksgiving in October means we can take a little breather before Christmas celebrations really get underway, allowing us to recover from the stresses of cooking a meal for 20 that includes a diabetic aunt, a vegan teenager, and a brother’s gluten-free girlfriend.
5. We don’t have to worry about snow…much. Oh, sure, we get freak snowstorms in October. But the likelihood of a Snow-pocalypse goes way, way up as you get through November.
But the best thing about Thanksgiving in October? If we have American family or friends, we all get to celebrate twice!]]>
Click here to view the embedded video.
A number of famous campaigns have sought, with varying success, to purge people of the urge to litter.
One of the most effective, the Texas Department of Transporation’s “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign, famously reduced litter on the state’s major highways by 72 percent during the 1980s, and Texans still employ the phrase as a point of state pride.
But in Russia, the litter problem is so severe that it’s beyond the scope of a catchy slogan. Case in point: the above video, in which a leather-clad vigilante literally throws garbage back in the faces of litterbugs.
In case you haven’t brushed up on your Russian, the first caption reads “I want to live in a clean city.” The video then concludes with the caption “And there will be punishment for anyone who spits on this.”
The vigilante has yet to be identified. And though her methods might put her at risk, we have to admit: it’s a little bit thrilling to see a litterbug’s trash tossed back through their SUV windows.]]>
Let’s be honest: a hot tub isn’t exactly something that’s easily moved around. And yet, what could be more relaxing than having a soak out in the open air, far away from civilization?
A clever invention called the Nomad Collapsible Hot Tub offers a unique solution. The vinyl-lined tub can be compressed into a small space, then packed out to whatever lake or isolated beach you like.
The tub is approximately five feet wide and two feet high, which allows for five people to enjoy the water together. Of course, then you have to fill the 225-gallon tub, which would require a substantial amount of labour. If a bucket brigade is not your style, the manufacturers recommend using a dedicated water pump to make things easier.
The heater is powered by propane, and uses a technique called thermosyphoning to warm the water and keep things toasty.
Certainly the Nomad is pretty low on the list of essential camping items, but if you enjoy drive-in camping, and are looking for a fun and epic way to relax, consider a collapsible hot tub. After a long day of camping, your muscles will thank you.]]>
Click here to view the embedded video.
(Warning: This video contains mildly inappropriate language.)
As cottagers, we accept that some campfire traditions are inevitable. Gather around a fire in the woods with your friends, and you can be certain that beers will be sipped, marshmallows will be roasted, and ghost stories will be told.
And invariably, someone will break out their acoustic guitar, leading to off-key covers of Van Morrison and the Hip that always sound better after a few drinks.
Such was the case at Oregon’s Clackamas County campsite last weekend, when Darrick Skou was jamming on his guitar with a few friends. Except this time, not everyone was on board with the sing-along. While Skou was mid-strum, a bat latched onto his shirt and crawled up his torso to bite him on the neck.
“Something hit me. I was concentrating on staying in time and all that, and it hit me here, and I kind of saw something out of my peripheral vision. And then it’s there and then it just bit me,” Skou told KATU News.
“It was like a cold dog nose,” he said. “It was just a cold bite.”
As the video above shows, Skou swore and swung at his assailant, which settled in a tree above before flying down and attacking him twice more.
Worried that the bat was rabid due to its peculiar behaviour, Skou’s fellow campers managed shoot the bat with a BB gun, and they brought it to Multnomah County health officials, who determined that bat was indeed rabid.
Thankfully, Skou was able to receive treatment before the onset of symptoms, as rabies is deadly in humans when left untreated.]]>
The end of summer is often greeted with loud laments. After all, daylight is fading, kids are going back to school, cottages are closing up, and every day draws us closer to snow, slush, and days of dreary cold.
If you stop and think about it, though, fall’s got a lot going for it. In fact, it may even be better than summer. Take a look at this list of why we think so and let us know if you agree.
1. You’ll stop feeling guilty about staying home and reading on the couch. Summer’s good weather is so fleeting that it sometimes seems sacrilegious not to be enjoying yourself outside all the time, even though no one’s managed to make a deck chair that’s as comfortable as your favourite indoor reading nook.
2. You can pack up summer’s nagging body anxieties with your tank tops, shorts and swimsuits. Guys, you no longer have to worry about what socks will go with what sandals (although, for future reference, the answer is NONE).
3. PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING.
4. Apples everywhere! And not those mealy, tasteless summer abominations, either—crisp, tart, juicy apples are at every farmer’s stand at this time of year.
5. Football season starts, and in the few precious weeks before the grim reality of hockey season gets underway, Leafs fans still have time to indulge in Stanley Cup fantasies.
6. Your car no longer becomes a suffocating torture chamber, and your boat stops giving you third degree burns when you sit on its metal seats without a cushion.
7. Sure, summer’s got long weekend, but are they paired with turkey, stuffing, gravy and pie? Nope.
8. Autumn leaves are like a fantastic fireworks display—minus the traumatized pets and crying babies.
9. It’s too cold for your annoying neighbour to sit on his dock with the stereo blaring all freakin’ day. And grass grows slower, so he won’t be mowing his ridiculously manicured lawn every morning at dawn.
10. Say goodbye to clammy pillowcases and sticky sheets, and revel in fluffy, snuggly duvets.
11. Hasta la vista, hayfever.
12. Adding layers to stay warm is easier—and more legal—than trying to stay cool by taking them off.
13. Cuddling on the porch or in a hammock is a lot more comfortable when you and your snuggle buddy aren’t fused together by a sticky layer of sweat and sunscreen.
14. Buh-bye blackflies. Move on, mosquitoes.
15. Soup. Stew. Dumplings. Chili. All those rib-sticking, warm-and-comforting foods are suddenly so much more appetizing.]]>
As summer comes to an end and we all get back into the daily grind, it’s important we ensure that we don’t become too dependent on our devices. Disable those push notifications, hide your phone during dinner, and keep your inbox in check, and you’ll have a happier, simpler life in no time.
Buy an alarm clock
There’s a new invasive species attacking beds across North America, causing restlessness and insomnia in its wake. The intruder? Cell phones. According to scientists from the Harvard Medical School, cell phones produce specific light wavelengths that can suppress melatonin, the hormone in your brain that helps you fall asleep. With so many of us using our smart phones as alarm clocks, our buzzing iPhones are just an arms-length away from our pillows. For a better night’s sleep, get a proper, old-fashioned alarm clock and keep your phone hidden in a drawer across the room where it won’t disturb you throughout the night. For those of us who have incorporated checking Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram into our bedtime routine, it will be tough to ditch the phone at first. But keep at it and you’ll be falling asleep faster than ever soon enough.
Go device-free at dinner
Smart phones seem to have found a permanent place setting at the dinner table, becoming as ubiquitous as cutlery. We’re constantly Instagramming our quinoa salads, writing emails, and tweeting our whereabouts when we really should be savouring our meals and enjoying the company of those around us. In fact, a new study from researchers at Virginia Tech found that even just having a cell phone on the table while eating lowers the quality of conversation. Along with missing facial expressions and changes in tone, individuals preoccupied with cell phones were less likely to show empathy and make eye contact. Make dinners a device-free zone—no checking emails or Googling obscure trivia to prove a point—and instead focus on those eating with you.
Disable push notifications
If your phone is always pinging and buzzing, it’s time to disable push notifications before it ruins your relationship. New research from Joseph Grenny, the author of The New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations, found that a quarter of people say EIDS (Electronic Displays of Insensitivity, such as interrupting a conversation to respond to a text message), have caused serious rifts with friends or family members. Disabling push notifications from social media apps will result in fewer disruptions throughout your day, to the benefit of your relationships, and your work ethic—we all know that checking that one unread Facebook message will lead to mindlessly scrolling through your phone before even realizing 30-minutes has passed.
Create an online-free zone
You know that feeling when you think you hear your phone vibrate, but upon checking it you realize it was a false alarm? It’s called Phantom Vibration Syndrome, a very real sensation that’s a surefire symptom of smartphone addiction. Before your dependency (or addiction) to your smartphone gets completely out of control, create an online-free zone in your life. For instance, ban all devices from the bedroom, or make a pledge to keep your phone tucked away during your walk to work and while you grocery shop. From there, you can add online-free times to your schedule. In the morning, go through your full routine before checking any device, and at lunch, step away from the computer. In the evening, give yourself a digital curfew.]]>
Canada has often been rated one of the most loved countries in the world. People tend to feel this way because we are known to be friendly and funny (intentionally or not), we have an expansive and diverse nation with a lush natural environment, and we produce internationally recognized people and products. Here in Canada, we know that our country is pretty great, but here’s why other nations love us, too.
1. Our unbeatable cottage country.
Muskoka has been rated the number one summer vacation destination in the world. In fact, even some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities vacation there, including Tom Hanks and Kate Hudson.
2. Our love of meat—especially bacon.
Somehow, the subject of Canadian bacon always comes up with tourists, and we’re not just talking peameal. With a statistic that says Canada produces five strips of bacon for every person on the planet, it’s obvious outsiders just can’t get enough either. Beyond bacon, we’re also world-renowned for our game meats, Montreal smoked meat, and salmon production.
3. How seriously we take hockey.
Canada and hockey have become synonymous with one another, but it’s for good reason. Though some hockey fans have recently suggested that ice hockey was created in Britain, not Canada, there is no question that Canadians have always been the most talented players. Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux, and Crosby are just a few names that come to mind. In fact, our Olympic team has a collection of nine Gold medals, and when we win, it’s a really big deal.
4. Our currency.
Now that we’ve had our no-fold, plastic, rumoured-to-be-syrup-scented, rainbow-coloured bills in circulation for a while, it’s hard to remember what Canadian cash looked like before it. The Canadian Mint was made fun of when it unveiled the latest, “Monopoly money,” but our current bills are only the most recent example that our country enjoys making money fun. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s a bit comical that an entire nation legitimately accepts and uses the names “Loonie” and “Toonie” for their currency.
5. We’re really sorry, even if you run into us.
It has happened to any true Canadian: you’re walking along, someone runs into you, and you find yourself saying “sorry”—even when you’re not sure why. The apologetic Canadian is a fairly accurate stereotype. But you’ve ever travelled to another country and experienced someone step on your foot, nudge you out of the way, or cut in line without batting an eye, you realize that the Canadian way is much more attractive than the alternative.
6. Our accents and distinct dialect.
There are lots of fun words that you’ll only hear in Canada, like two-four, toque, and toboggan, and according to our neighbours from the south, we over-pronounce words like “about” and “roof.” But because of Canada’s sheer size, there are several accents within the country that generally depend on geographic location. In fact, Newfoundlanders have such a strong heritage that they have a language that’s all their own.
7. Our ability to get sick and still stay out of debt.
Canadians are generally regarded as really nice people, which may have something to do with the fact that we take care of ourselves and one another. We have all heard arguments about how Canadian healthcare could be improved with privatized systems or super-inclusive social services like those in Northern Europe, but the bottom line is that in most situations, Canadians can walk into a healthcare facility, receive treatment, and not have to go into debilitating debt because of it. Regardless of the debate, Canada has one of the highest life expectancy rates and lowest infant mortality rates in the world, so we must be doing something right.
8. The West Coast has one of the best winter climates and ski seasons in the world.
Whistler, B.C., has a 7-month ski season, which is one of the longest in North America. Alongside international acclaim and professional endorsements for the quality of its facilities and terrain, Whistler also gets some amazing powder, which is why the resort often employs and hosts guests from around the world
9. Degrassi is an international hit.
This one might sound weird, but Degrassi is an extremely popular and influential television show worldwide. Whether you’re a fan of the teen-targetted show or not, Degrassi has been a long-standing show that has always been known for breaking boundaries and bringing sometimes uncomfortable real-life scenarios to the forefront. The show, which is filmed in Toronto, has featured tough teen topics including school shootings, sexual assault, drug use, mental illness, and sexual health. Most recently, seasons 10 through 13 showed the struggles of the first transgendered teen character to appear regularly on a series scripted show, ever.
10. We’re funny (and we’re not afraid to laugh at ourselves).
A little self-deprecation can go a long way in how people perceive one another, and Canadian celebs don’t hold back from making fun of their heritage. A few who continuously mock their own Canadianness include Cobie Smulder (“Robin” on the popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother), Drake, Mike Myers, Rick Moranis, and Rick Mercer. Plus, a quick glance at a list of famous Canadians shows just how many funny, awkward people make it to the big screen from the Great White North.
11. We’re a nation of acceptance.
More than a decade ago, Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage, which has since allowed milestones like World Pride 2014 to take place in Toronto where a record-breaking 120 couples from less liberal countries were married in unison. We also boast multiculturalism. In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. What does that mean? Officially, “multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry, and have a sense of belonging.”
12. Our vast wilderness.
A lot of foreigners are truly amazed when they discover just how large Canada is. “I’m coming to Toronto for a week in December—I’ll have time to see the Rockies, right?” is a question that actually gets asked. With 10 provinces and three territories, Canada is not only the second largest country by land mass, but it also features a wicked amount untouched nature. Canada is home to the most lakes in the world, which is 20 percent of the earth’s freshwater resources. Likewise, more than half of Canada is covered in trees, which amounts to about 10 percent of the world’s forests.
13. Our mouth-watering culinary inventions.
Fried potatoes plus gravy plus cheese curds? Potato chips flavoured to taste like ketchup or dill pickles? Mini donuts made out of the holes of regular donuts? A drink that mixes clam juice, tomato juice, vodka, tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce? Maple syrup on whaaaaat? Canadian delicacies might sound gross, but anyone who’s tasted them knows they’re absolutely delicious.]]>