Shmoo Cake, Persians and Spudnuts: Touring Canada’s Regional Delicacies

Dan Bilefsky, my colleague who relies in his hometown, Montreal, seemed right into a existential menace that has united, type of, two of town’s best rivals: Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel.

The menace is the prospect that town may ban the wood-burning ovens which can be a key part of what makes Montreal bagels, a minimum of to their proponents, the world champions of bagels. These of you who’re unfamiliar with Montreal bagels can find out about what distinguishes them from different bagels, the St-Viateur-Fairmount rivalry and the talk over which store’s doughy circles are the best by studying Dan’s entertaining story.

[Learn: A Montreal Bagel War Unites Rival Kings]

However I’ve to share one citation from the article to present you a way of the boundaries of the present collaboration between the retailers:

“His bagels went to the moon, yeah, certain,” the proprietor of St-Viateur stated of his competitor’s store. “However the oldest? Give me one iota of proof!”

Montreal bagels are simply certainly one of many meals related to a metropolis, province or area. After all, Montreal and Quebec can even add smoked meat, steamies, sugar pie and poutine to their lists.

Some native favorites have made their method throughout the nation. Montreal-style bagels are pulled out of a wood-burning oven 24 hours a day just some blocks from my home in Ottawa. And a few weeks in the past after I was out operating in Calgary, I handed a store with indicators boasting about its equally genuine Montreal bagels.

However many different meals oddities stay stubbornly native.

Right here, by metropolis or province, is my unquestionably incomplete record of regional dishes.

Newfoundland: The latest newcomer to the confederation is up there with Quebec in the case of having its personal delicacies. Seal flipper pie — consider a hen potpie however with seal meat — is maybe the one one from the province that pulls each admirers and critics from animal rights teams. A jiggs’ dinner, a largely boiled meal based mostly round salted beef, affords a extra substantial various.

Many delights from The Rock additionally depend on the fishery, like fried cod tongues (not actually tongues) and scrunchions (fried salt pork). However Newfoundlanders have additionally developed an entire college of cooking round waxed bologna, or “the big stick.”

Halifax: As soon as its bars shut, Nova Scotia’s capital meets the early morning nutritional needs of its large student population with the donair: spiced floor beef roasted on a spit, sliced and served with a particular sauce on a pita. Like Montreal and bagels, which store produces the best or most genuine donair is a topic of debate. There additionally seems to be some questioning of whether or not a donair is definitely totally different than shawarma or a gyro.

New Brunswick: Fiddleheads, the curly shoots of ostrich ferns, are free for the choosing every spring. The province’s tourism authority affords this description of their taste: “similar to asparagus or artichokes … kind of.”

Prince Edward Island: Islanders, please assist me out. There seems to be no finish to varied fish, potato and lobster dishes, however none seem like clearly of P.E.I. Maybe potato fish cakes match the invoice, however their reputation and place in its cooking historical past are unclear.

Thunder Bay, Ontario: Bisected by each transcontinental prepare traces and the Trans-Canada Freeway, and in addition the final port on the Nice Lakes, Thunder Bay attracted immigrants from around the globe who introduced their cooking with them. They included my maternal grandfather, Mike Holavec. Initially from Ukraine, he got here to Thunder Bay from Manitoba to work as a logger.

Two dishes have emerged from that historical past. First the dense, egg-rich Finnish pancake. As I wrote in 2015, it really isn’t from Finland however is most probably a variation of one thing that was served to my grandfather in lumber camps.

It’s on the menu at a number of locations round city, however Finnish pancakes are most carefully related to the Hoito, a Finnish restaurant that began as a cooperative catering to lumberjacks.

Thunder Bay’s different contribution to Canadian cooking is the Persian, an oddly named variation of the cinnamon bun topped with lurid pink icing.

Winnipeg: Bannock, after all, is present in Indigenous communities all through North America. However I affiliate the ritual of the flatbread served with tea with Manitoba’s capital metropolis and the encircling space into northwestern Ontario.

Winnipeg has a minimum of two dessert obsessions. Imperial cookies are two vanilla biscuits, joined by jam and topped with icing. As with Montreal’s bagels, there are various opinions about which Winnipeg bakery makes the perfect ones.

Shmoo, or Schmoo, is Winnipeg’s tall torte based mostly on angel meals cake, layered up with whipped cream, caramel and pecans.

Saskatchewan: Even in a Canada that’s more and more divided by area, we are able to all most likely agree that anything made using Saskatoon berries is a deal with.

Whereas it’s probably not a dish, I’ve been in eating places in Saskatchewan, in addition to in Alberta, that supply pirogi as a breakfast side-order choice.

Lethbridge, Alberta: This one could also be extra of a meals obituary. The Loopy Muffins Bakery claimed to be the final store in Canada nonetheless producing spudnuts: doughnuts made with potato flour. However a few month in the past, it shut down.

Vancouver: Town of sushi is the house of the B.C. roll, which incorporates barbecue salmon pores and skin and a candy sauce or mayonnaise.

And there’s an Indian pizza scene in Vancouver that entails toppings like butter hen and chili hen tikka.

After all, a brief ferry journey from Vancouver can take guests to Nanaimo, British Columbia, house of that no-bake, namesake wonder dessert, the Nanaimo bar. Within the curiosity of not offending anybody from that metropolis, I can’t go into the previous joke about what’s in a Nanaimo bar.

As talked about, this record is woefully incomplete. Neither I nor a number of mates or relations may give you something particularly related to Toronto, for instance, regardless of town’s proliferation of eating places.

So please fill me in on what’s lacking out of your neighborhood: [email protected]. We’re trying just for dishes which can be present in eating places and residential kitchens, not regional business snack meals. This article has already explored that topic in addition to your thoughts on it.

Equally, we most likely don’t wish to get into ethnic meals which can be widespread in your city or metropolis however not distinctive to it. Please embrace your full title and the place you reside. We might use the among the replies in an upcoming e-newsletter.


  • Alexandra Jacobs has written an amusing lament for the demise of department store window displays. “Within the previous days, window shows had been the first type of advertising — trend was the identical as butcher retailers and fishmongers,” one outstanding window dresser informed her. “Now, in the event you’re ready until somebody walks previous your retailer, you’ve misplaced the combat.”

  • James Gorman seemed into dogs’ affection for humans and located that it might certainly be real love. The catch: Their interspecies bonding capacity might lengthen to virtually every other creature.


A local of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Occasions for the previous 16 years. Observe him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


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