Canada: as famous for its mountains, forests, and wide-open prairie skies as it is for vibrant and multicultural cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, this vast northern country has something for every traveller.
And while the words “Canadian cuisine” may not conjure much to the mind of the average person, chefs across the nation have been quietly pioneering one of the most dynamic food cultures in the world.
Home to immigrants from every corner of the world as well as deeply rooted Indigenous civilizations, Canadian cuisine now encompasses everything from authentic Neapolitan pizza and Indian street food to Thai sandwiches and elk burgers.
If you are planning a trip to Canada and want to take in as much of the local food culture as possible, here are three tips for eating like a Canadian.
1. Research the Area You’re Visiting
Like the United States, Canada is a highly regional country. Classic Atlantic Canadian dishes like cod fishcakes or lobster is not going to be readily available in Saskatchewan, and this also goes for the micro-cultures of the different Canadian cities.
For example, Winnipeg boasts significant Filipino and Eastern European populations, as well as the largest per-capita urban Indigenous population in the country, which has led this unassuming prairie city to develop a unique (and delicious!) blend of cuisines.
Even taking the time to learn about which neighbourhoods you will be staying in can lead you to discover some delightful local specialties. For example, if you’re staying in Montreal’s Plateau or Mile End neighbourhoods, check out Fairmount Bagels to get a taste of the local Jewish cuisine.
2. Go Camping
Camping has long been a favourite summer pastime for Canadians from all walks of life, and with this love of camping comes a unique cuisine designed to be prepared and eaten under the stars.
While burgers and steaks are familiar camping favourites, fish, buffalo, and turkey give you a chance to experience something a little more unique.
If you are heading out on a camping trip and want to make sure you’re packing authentic Canadian meat, ordering from a company that specializes in local meat raised within the province you are visiting is a great way to support local producers while diving into authentic Canadian flavours (you can click here to learn more about fresh meat delivery options in Canada).
3. Eat Independently
Like every other large North American city, Canada has no shortage of chain restaurants. While trying something you are familiar with can be nice when you’re far from home, for every McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s, there is a local diner or hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant that will give you a more authentic and rewarding dining experience.
Canadians are proud of their independent restaurants, so whether you’re looking to sample the best of Vancouver’s bustling Chinatown or you want to chow down on some authentic Quebec City poutine, taking the time to seek out independent businesses is a great way to eat more authentically.
Canada is an endlessly fascinating country, rich in history, natural beauty, and culture, and Canadians have steadily been perfecting their own way of eating for hundreds of years.
If you’re taking a trip to the Great White North, and want to eat like a local, doing your research, going camping, and eating independently are great ways to make the most of your trip!