Looking to specialize in Canadian Cuisine? Or, maybe, you’re just considering popping over for a visit to Canada and are curious about what kind of food to expect in that region of the world.
Whatever brought you over to this article, look forward to learning more about the many intricacies of Authentic Canadian Cuisine — brought to you by Professional Chef, Bobby Rahman, who specializes in traditional Canadian cooking and is currently working with one of the finest restaurants in Ontario!
Below, we ask Chef Bobby Rahman the most commonly asked questions about Canadian Cuisine and what someone who is completely unfamiliar with it might expect:
How would you describe Authentic Canadian Cuisine?
Bobby Rahman: Well, if we’re talking about authentic, like the first recipes populated in Canada. Then I would point to what the Indigenous People that lived here ate before any contact could be established with the English or the French. In that respect, I would also point to the meals made entirely out of the types of ingredients that populated this region — before all the plants and animals from other countries were brought over.
But, more relevantly, I suppose, is the kind of Authentic Canadian experience that you have these days — which is, in all respects — a melting pot of all the different cultures that have propagated this country in the past hundreds of years. In this case, it is still about the ingredients, more than any particular technique or flavor. Not as distinctive as other cuisines, but no less an art form because of it.
How does Canadian Cuisine compare with other cuisines that you love?
Bobby Rahman: As mentioned, it’s not quite as distinctive as other cuisines. I guess the way to describe it would be through a thought experiment. If I were to ask you what Indian cuisine is like, I’m sure that (even if you aren’t a chef yourself or a proud foodie) you would instantly match the term with meals flavored with careful blends of spices to bring out the aromatic notes that are just so inarguably Indian. The same thing would probably happen if I asked you to describe Chinese cuisine or Greek cuisine (if you haven’t tried the latter before, I suggest you do!)
It’s an instinctive kind of identification. Easy because there are markers that keep them distinct. That’s not the case with Canadian cuisine. It’s more like… well, earlier I said it was no less an art form. And that’s really how I see it. Picture a group of artists staring at the same bowl of fruit and yet managing to create a variety of paintings or drawings with distinctive styles and techniques — except, of course, in this metaphor we’re talking Canadian Cuisine being about chefs working with the same ingredients to come up with their own uniquely delicious recipes.
It’s breakfast time! What is the quintessential Canadian Breakfast like?
Bobby Rahman: I’m thinking that most people are already familiar with American breakfasts. And that’s really the best way to describe it. Think pancakes, cereal, eggs, oatmeal, waffles, sausages, bacon, potatoes, I can go on really.
But yeah, Canadian breakfast is not all that different from American breakfast. Although, we do have our own quirks. Like Golden Syrup with our pancakes rather than just the regular Maple Syrup (although we do like that too, of course, and ours tend to be more premium too since the largest producers of the stuff are here in Canada.) Or there are hot cereals, which are particularly popular during the colder winter months. There’s also the ever-popular Canadian bacon (although that’s more of a treat than most people probably realize) rather than regular bacon, paired with some toast maybe or over-easy eggs. All in all? It’s very simple, with a perfectly mixed assortment for those who might prefer sweet over savory or vice versa.
How about lunch? What do Canadians like to eat for lunch?
Bobby Rahman: I think the only common theme there is for it to be something quick and easy. Perhaps a light meal packed to-go for work. Or a heavier meal is eaten during a visit to a nearby fast-food restaurant. If you’re looking for specific meals, dishes like Poutine, Tourtiere (a kind of meat pie), maybe some Montreal-style bagels, are popular — really, just anything that is portable and easy to lug around in case you have to run back to work or something of the like.
And dinner? Any particulars there? Or is it much like Canadian Lunches?
Bobby Rahman: Much like lunch, no particulars. But, at this point of the day, people are ready to settle down after a long day of work. A heavier meal is usual, I think. Something savory — I’m thinking Bannock, maybe game meat (which is especially popular here), some salmon perhaps, lobster, or a simple barley stew.
And lastly, how would you describe the average Canadian dining experience?
Bobby Rahman: Again, the dining experience is not all that distinguishable from what’s often seen in the West. More French influences though, definitely (especially if you’re eating out in French Canada). Or, just a lot more European influences in general.