10 Canadian Delicacies That Americans Need to Know About
From BeaverTails and Screech to game meat and Saskatoon berries, here’s a menu of drool-worthy Canadian foods ready to satisfy the most selective of taste buds.
Canadian Delicacies: BeaverTails
For the uninitiated, a BeaverTail is a sweet treat frequently spotted at fairgrounds, theme parks, ski hills and tourist hot spots. Created by Ottawa’s Pam and Grant Hooker in 1978, BeaverTails have become a leisure time tradition. The deep fried whole-wheat pastry resembles the shape of a beaver’s tail (hence the odd name), and is served steaming hot with a variety of yummy condiments including the classic sugar and cinnamon topping, butter and jam, chocolate, apples—basically, whatever your heart desires.
Canadian Delicacies: Timbits and a “Double Double”
It would be nearly impossible to find a Canadian who hasn’t sampled a donut, coffee or sandwich from Tim Hortons. The humble coffee shop was launched in Hamilton, Ontario in 1964 by Tim Horton, a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player. Donuts and hockey—you can’t get more Canadian than that. Over the years, Tim Hortons has become synonymous with the Great White North, and today it boasts more outlets than any other restaurant in Canada. With its menu of steaming hot coffee – the “Double Double,” a brew featuring two sugars and two creams, is a national favourite—and bite-sized Timbits, Tim Hortons is a treasure trove of taste.
Canadian Delicacies: Newfoundland Screech
Living on the windy ocean swept Rock, Newfoundlanders are a hearty bunch, so it’s hardly surprising that their rum of choice contains 40 per cent alcohol. Other drinkers may flinch at the potent alcohol content, but not this bunch. Newfoundland Screech apparently got its unique name after a visiting American WWII serviceman downed the rum in one quick toss. His howls of distress caused a bystander to rush to his aid, only to discover that he wasn’t injured or ill, he was merely ‘enjoying’ Newfoundland’s prized rum. The funny name stuck, and today the rum and its place in Newfoundland’s culture have become legendary.
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Canadian Delicacies: Ketchup Potato Chips
You can travel the globe in search of ketchup potato chips, but you’ll only end up frustrated and empty handed—unless you stumble into Canada. Yes, our home and native land is one of the few jurisdictions where ketchup flavoured potato chips are plentiful, and popular. The salty yet tomato-y tang is so unique and addictive that non-Canadians are clearly missing out on this taste sensation.
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Canadian Delicacies: Saskatoon Berries
Don’t confuse Saskatoon berries with blueberries, their fruity doppelganger. While both berries are rich in antioxidants, and are blessed with anti-inflammatory powers, Saskatoon berries have a unique taste. The sweet, tart flavoured berries typically grow in the Canadian prairies, northern Canada, and British Columbia, as well as the more northwestern reaches of the United States. Production of the fruit into jams, pies, and wine over the past 20 years has turned the humble Saskatoon berry into the prairies’ 2nd largest commercial fruit crop.
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Canadian Delicacies: Nanaimo Bars
Canadian legend has it that Mabel Jenkins of Nanaimo, British Columbia was the culinary genius behind this chocolatey dessert in the early 1950s. Famous for their layered appearance, the bars traditionally comprised of graham cracker crumbs, coconut, cocoa, vanilla custard, and chocolate. Easy to make with no baking time necessary, Nanaimo bars can also be fashioned into mint or peanut butter varieties.
Canadian Delicacies: Ice Wine
Canadians may be stereotyped as beer swiggers (Bob and Doug McKenzie, anybody?), so it may be surprising to discover that we’re known for a more refined alcoholic libation abroad. Hello, Canadian Ice Wine! Frozen ice wine grapes are handpicked from the vine, and owe their unique taste to Mother Nature’s chilly vibe. According to Peller Estates, one of Canada’s leading producers of ice wine, each icy grape provides a single drop of frozen juice. Once sufficient liquid is collected, this valuable nectar creates a rare, sweet dessert wine bursting with flavour.
Canadian Delicacies: Poutine
Have you fallen for the artery-clogging charms of poutine? The calorie-laden dish consisting of French fries, hot gravy and cheese curds hails from Québec, but is beloved by hungry Canucks across the nation. Variations of poutine featuring bacon, chicken and even truffles have popped up on upscale restaurant menus, but purists still reckon that the original recipe is hard to beat. In fact, some ravenous fans boldly proclaim that poutine is Canada’s national dish.
Canadian Delicacies: Game Meat
Sorry, Black Angus steak. Canada has some new meaty competition on its dinner table. Carnivores will delight in the range of domestic game meat carried in butcher shops, and served in restaurants across the country: venison (elk, deer, moose), bison, boar, and rabbit. Leaner, and lower in fat and calories than the usual plate-bound protein, game meat is a healthier mealtime alternative.
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Canadian Delicacies: Tourtière
Traditionally enjoyed during autumn and winter holiday celebrations, tourtière is a hearty French Canadian meat pie that has become so popular that it now tantalizes the palates of diners across the country year-round. A thin, flakey crust encases the pie’s savory mixture of diced pork, onion, garlic, and spices. Variations of the original recipe abound with some ingredient lists including ground chicken, beef, salmon, veal or game meats, as well as potatoes, rolled oats, cinnamon and white wine.