The Ultimate Poutine Image by: Jeff Coulson
Do you know your Rappie Pie? Pets des soeurs? Take our quiz to find out if you're a real Canadian foodie!
Sure, we're known for our igloos, ehs and chesterfields, but Canadians have more to bring to the table – literally. We may not have the most notable culinary history, but Canadian food has earned a reputation for being diverse, hearty, and often conveniently portable (for those lumberjacking adventures or weekend hockey tournaments).
How much do you know about the cuisine of Canada? Test your savoir-faire of Canadian food to find out.
1. Your fishing rod-wielding uncle from Nova Scotia is visiting for the weekend and offers to whip up a Rappie Pie for supper. What should you warn your cowering kids to prepare for before they sit down to dinner?
a) A sugar high: this traditional Atlantic repast is a "dessert for dinner" tradition that involves a family-sized maple pie as the main entrée.
b) Nothing but Uncle Henry's usual antics. Rappie pie is Atlantic slang for lasagna.
c) Signs that their relative has suffered a heart attack from one-too-many helpings of this meat-and-potato casserole, usually slathered with butter and topped with bacon.
2. Canadians love a good buffet – the Chinese buffet is an all-you-can eat affair, consisting of chow mein, won ton soup, potstickers and other take-out favourites. Where did this culinary convention come from?
a) A love of all things convenient. As take-out grew in popularity, Chinese restaurants started offering in-and-out buffets to appease on-the-go eaters.
b) Thank your Scandinavian forefathers. Loggers and millworkers living in Gastown, B.C. were wild for Chinese cuisine and preferred it served buffet-style.
c) Royalty! Queen Elizabeth was overheard referring to a Chinese dinner as a "smorgasbord of flavours" - and a tradition was born!
3. If you ask for fish and chips in jolly ole'England, you'll usually get a plate of deep-fried cod and potato wedges. In Canada, we've got fish and brewis:
a) Another name for fish and chips, but "brewis" refers to the cold "brewskie" traditionally served alongside the meal.
b) A combination of fish and hard bread, boiled and served with drizzled fat. Don't you wish you were in England?
c) Not a food, but Canadian slang for troublemaking ("John's son has been up to some fish and brewis, eh?").
4. We can thank our French Canadian cohorts for pets des soeurs, a dessert of pastry dough wrapped around brown sugar and cream. If anyone asks (and we hope they don't), what's the English translation for this tasty treat?
a) Holy flatulence! This translates to the very unappetizing "Nuns Farts".
b) French Canadians rebelled by creating this "Pastry of Pride" after France was vanquished in the Seven Years War.
c) With lard, cream and sugar being the main ingredients, they didn't lie when they called this one "Sister be Fat".
5. You host a group of foreign friends for the weekend, and promise to indulge them in some fine Canadian cuisine – including beaver tails. Before they cancel their trip, you might want to clarify:
a) They should be prepared to spend big. The fleshy tail makes for a tender filet, and is only served at the finest Canadian restaurants – for up to $200 an order.
b) Just remind them to bring their Rolaids. This fried confection is basically a very large, glorified donut.
c) Hope they've got a sense of adventure. "Tail" is the polite Canadian way to refer to what comes out underneath it. Sautéed turds is more like it!
6. Canadians love a good breakfast. Which morning food credits the natural, rugged beauty of Manitoba for inspiring its beginnings in the 1920s?
a) Red River Cereal – a mix of wheat, flax and rye. Thanks, Manitoba!
b) Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. The wives of Manitoba farmers started boycotting kitchen duty, so "cinnamon toast" in boxed form made its way to store shelves.
c) The Timbit. These mini donut balls were created by Tim Horton's for farmers who needed something easy to munch while they worked the land.
7. The Nanaimo bar is a delectable Canadian treat. This no-bake square is a layered dessert of chocolate, light custard and (of course) more chocolate. Where does this indulgence get its name?
a) A hero to Canadian women everywhere – Vivianne Nanaimo created the dessert as a "cure-all" for her PMS-induced chocolate cravings.
b) Legend has it that the bar was created in Nanaimo, B.C. and popularized when it was submitted to a magazine recipe contest.
c) Aren't Canadians supposed to be honest? Though we take credit for the dessert, it actually originated at a New York café, "The Nanaimo."
8. You want to bring a traditional Canadian food to a dinner party being attended by a bevy of recent American expats. Which of these might raise a few less-than-appetized eyebrows?
a) Flipper pie. A traditional meal from Newfoundland, made from seal flippers.
b) Mange-a-pied. A French appetizer made from the diced, sautéed feet of farm animals. Waste not, want not!
c) Forage salad. This "eco friendly" menu item was conceived by B.C. tree-planters, and consists of chopped shrubs, plants and edible flowers – whatever you can "forage" is fair game.
9. Butter tarts were a favourite of our first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald. What better way to honour your heritage than to whip up a batch? Which of these is a must-have ingredient for a blissful butter tart?
a) Margarine. Most butter tart recipes were changed during World War I, when butter was heavily rationed.
b) Salt. A traditional butter tart is meant to be a savoury pie, seasoned with fresh herbs and plenty of Atlantic sea salt.
c) A thick skin. Even the most polite Canadian gets hot under the collar when it comes to talking butter tarts. Raisins? No raisins? This calls for a referendum!
10. Canadians do more than just eat, you know. We like to drink, too! Which popular beverage was invented in 1969 by a Calgary bartender to mark the opening of his restaurant?
a) The Cosmopolitan. Sex and the City may get most of the credit, but this wise restaurateur wanted to serve a drink that would attract an upper class, chic clientele during the Alberta oil boom.
b) The Trudeau. A shot of whiskey combined with horseradish, followed by a string of expletives directed at Alberta's favourite prime minister.
c) The Caesar. This mix of vodka, clamato juice and hot sauce is the perfect pairing for a big, fat slab of Alberta beef.
Answers: 1. C 2. B 3. B 4. A 5. B 6. A 7. B 8. A 9. C 10. C
Between 1-3 questions correct: Stuck in the gustatory gallery
With such minimal knowledge of Canada's fine foods, we're guessing you also don't know the anthem and couldn't pick Don Cherry out of a lineup. That's okay – you can start your culinary education by taking our photo tour of Canada's foods.
Between 4-7 correct: Member of the culinary cabinet
You love a good apple fritter and you've got your own idea of what makes a real Canadian butter tart. Go from Canadian cook to connoisseur by preparing a regional meal you've never had – anything but Flipper Pie.
Between 8-10 correct: Monarch of Canadian cuisine
Maple syrup – a food group? It is for you, the supreme ruler of all cuisine that is Canadian. But don't let your nationalistic fervour overwhelm your taste buds entirely. Embrace Canada's multiculturalism and try foods from traditions around the world!
Want to try your hand at a Canadian culinary delight? Try our Heavenly Butter Tarts or After Dinner Nanaimo Bars.