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Quirky culinary treats that originated in Canada

Nanaimo Bars

Spring is the perfect time to make plans for a family roadtrip. It’s the time of year when we begin dreaming of roaming this vast country. But instead of filling up on double-doubles, Timbits, poutine, or some other classic Canadian treat along the way, why not try something a little more interesting? 

After all, us Canadians are a quirky bunch and we’ve got the culinary creations to prove it. So the next time you’re heading across this great country of ours, try one of these not-so-boring Canadian foods. 

Nanaimo Bars

This dessert is sweet, delicate, delicious, and requires no baking. Nanaimo bars can now be found around the world (including Laos in Southeast Asia), but they originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia, of course. There are different varieties of the Nanaimo bar, but the original version consists of a wafer, crumb-based layer, which is topped with a light vanilla or custard-flavoured butter icing, which is then covered with melted chocolate.

Blueberry Grunt

This sounds like something that would talk back to you, but it’s actually something to talk about, indulge in, and then talk about some more because it’s such a scrumptious treat. So what exactly is a blueberry grunt? This sweet Nova Scotian dessert dates back to the country’s earliest settlers, and is made by gently simmering together blueberries, sugar, and water. The mixture is then topped with homemade dumplings. The word “grunt” likely comes from the sound of blueberries bubbling away in sugar, or the satisfied sound you’ll make after eating it. 

BeaverTails

BeaverTail

BeaverTails, or Queues de Castor in French, are deep-fried tasty goodness shaped to resemble a beaver’s tail. Once removed from the hot oil, traditional BeaverTails are dusted with sugar and cinnamon, though several other topping options are available, such as chocolate and whipped cream. These true Canadian delicacies gained worldwide attention in 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ottawa and stopped by the ByWard Market for the sole purpose of trying one.

Cod Tongue

This is not exactly tongue, but rather a gelatinous bit of flesh from the fish’s throat. If you’re from Newfoundland, you know what it’s all about. For everyone else, these are little morsels of fish that could once be had for nothing by anyone willing to remove it from the many discarded fish heads lying about on fish docks. But times have changed, and today cod tongue is a coveted delicacy served not just in mom and pop dinners, but also in high-end restaurants across the province. Cod tongues are usually battered and fried, and served with an array of toppings, including scrunchions and salted pork fat, which has also been cut into small pieces and fried. And everything tastes better with fried pork fat on it.

Prairie Oysters

Prairie Oysters

A well-known dish in the Canadian prairies, these delectable tidbits are not oysters at all, but rather a testament to how adventurous you’re willing to get in your culinary explorations. Prairie oysters are made from bull or buffalo testicles that are peeled, removing the membranes. The testicles are sliced, breaded, fried, and voila! Just pop them in your mouth and try not to think about how they landed on your plate.