Newfoundland has a history and culture unlike any other part of Canada, so it should be no surprise that the food you’ll find across the province is equally unique. While some of these dishes are found in other parts of Canada’s East Coast, combined they make up a particularly Newfoundland cuisine. Here’s a small sampling of some of the region’s most popular delicacies.
Periodic shortages of cans of Fussell’s Thick Cream—which is exactly what it sounds like, and not to be confused with evaporated or condensed milk—plague Newfoundlanders, whose supply of the tinned topping is strictly regulated by laws that limit the import of dairy products. Canned cream, when it’s available, is enjoyed on top of pies, cakes, berries, and can also be mixed into bakeapple jam (more on bakeapples shortly) and spread on fresh bread.
Yup, these aren’t actually apples. And they don’t have to be baked, although bakeapple pie is delicious, especially with tinned cream. Legend has it that, long ago, someone asked in French what the berry was called: “Baie qu’appelle?” The rest is history. (Well, not quite. According to some people, the name comes from the fact that the berries, which look like big orange raspberries, smell like apples when they’re warming in the sun.) Bakeapples are known as cloudberries in other regions where they grow.
Fish ‘n’ brewis
Take some salt cod, take some hard bread (also known as hard tack), soak them both in water, boil them separately, add in some crispy bits of pork fat (better known as scrunchions) and you have a dish that was born on fishing boats that had little access to fresh anything. If you don’t want to bake your own hard tack, Newfoundland’s own Purity Factories sells it ready-made (along with other popular products, like Jam Jams, Cream Crisps, and flavoured syrups).
Okay, they’re not technically tongues—they’re actually a flap of flesh from a cod’s throat—but who wants to get technical when there’s a beautiful plate of fried fish topped with scrunchions in front of them? Like lobster, cod tongues used to be a food of necessity, but have since become a delicacy of the East Coast’s cod stocks.
Yes, flipper pie is exactly what it sounds like. Serving seal flippers in a pie traditionally follows the annual seal hunt in mid-March and April, which also tends to coincide with Lent (seal meat was deemed Lent-friendly by the Catholic Church in Sweden in the mid-sixteenth century). The secret to a really tasty flipper pie? Making to sure to remove every single ounce of fat from the flippers.
Every food culture has fried dough of some sort, and Newfoundland cuisine is no different. Toutons, which are served at breakfast or brunch, are traditionally fried in pork fat and served with scrunchions, although these days healthier oils tend to take the place of rendered lard. Maple syrup, corn syrup or jam are good with toutons, but the traditional topping is a drizzle of molasses and a pat of butter.
Also known as Sunday or boiled dinner, a Jiggs’ Dinner is similar to the old “corned beef and Cabbage,” but with a couple of Newfoundland twists. Generally, salt beef is used rather than corned beef, and the meal features pease pudding—yellow peas boiled in a cheesecloth bag along with the beef and veggies. Many Jiggs’ Dinners will also include a “duff,” which is a dessert pudding boiled in a bag alongside the rest of the meal. For those of you who remember the band Figgy Duff, well, that’s where their name came from.
We’ve no doubt missed several iconic Newfoundland yummies (Pineapple Crush, anyone?). What else needs to go on the list?