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Lunch in Toronto eating “Canadian” food


John Talbott
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:sad: Jeez, those are massive onion rings... Are they good with vinegar?

although technically a desert, a Nanaimo bar is typically Canadian
Probably true. But did you know that in Japanese 'nana imo' means 'seven potatoes'?

Sorry - anyway... potential disagreement:

I think that since Canada is one of the most vast countries in the world, different regions have different unique items. ... ... so to answer your question is as difficult as asking a group of Europeans as to what is "European" food. I am sure that a person from France would have a diametrically opposed answer to someone in Germany or Sweden and even within each country you will have different answers and Canada is no different since within the Maritime provinces you will get further delineation. I would say there is much uniquely Canadian cuisine out there all across the country. I mean I never had a peameal bacon sandwich until I moved to Toronto and cannot recall ever seeing one in Vancouver.
I've never had a peameal bacon sandwich myself (but still chuckle a bit when it comes up in discussions of fine Canadian cuisine - surely there must be more out there?).

However, you seem to be suggesting that Canadian cuisine is diverse, perhaps on the level of 'European' cuisine. If we're talking about traditional cuisine, then this just isn't so. I would say that in Canada's case geographical size and diversity hasn't translated into diversity on the table - and probably never will. The times are gone when pockets of people would stay at home, slowly developing regional specialties with locally available ingredients. To your average person in Toronto, for example, there's probably little regard for what distinguishes peameal bacon from 'non-Canadian' meat products.

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Having just returned from a drive to Kenora, I would suggest a lunch at The Tulip Restaurant in the east end of Toronto. Since the racetrack left and they moved into bigger digs, they have lost a touch of the genuine white lipsticked, teased hair, smoke-while-you-eat-tow-truck-moll flavour, but they serve some genuine fare that includes meatloaf the size of your head.

BTW, where would one partake of pickled pig's trotters and quarts of beer in T.O.? Probably nowhere I guess, but I'll keep hoping.

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Its funny that your examples for the United States are region specific.  Perhaps you should also limit your question regionally here also and that might help you get the answer you seek.

Of course you're correct and I do have some sense of BC fare (although it's probably more similar to Oregon/Washington product/cooking than elsewhere) or what I'd have in the Maritimes.

So I'll ask for region-specific dishes - Toronto, Ontario, that's it.

Thanks

Edited by John Talbott (log)

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Its funny that your examples for the United States are region specific.  Perhaps you should also limit your question regionally here also and that might help you get the answer you seek.

Of course you're correct and I do have some sense of BC fare (although it's probably more similar to Oregon/Washington product/cooking than elsewhere) or what I'd have in the Maritimes.

So I'll ask for region-specific dishes - Toronto, Ontario, that's it.

Thanks

The peameal bacon sandwich it is......seriously though, a variety of different species of fresh fish found in the great lakes surrounding Ontario (including yes, Lake Ontario – BTW avoid the Zebra mussels) and local Ontario game, including white tail deer and various local game birds and waterfowl (never seen Black Bear show up on a menu yet although I am aware the hunting for the same is plentiful), depending on the season and the location, show up on menus around the city on a periodic basis. I would say though, closer to September and October is when I see these show up.

Just curiuos, what would you say is a uniquely Paris, France dish (and not something that one would just identify as French generally)?

officially left egullet....

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Just curiuos, what would you say is a uniquely Paris, France dish (and not something that one would just identify as French generally)?

Oh my, there is no Paris or Ile de France food. There are mushrooms called Mushrooms of Paris, and not far away are the great Bries of "M" - Meaux, Melun and Montereau. Hummmm - great Parisien foods; Starbucks, McDo's and Ben & Jerry's. You have a great point. Let us start a new thread. What's Paris food? Edited by John Talbott (log)

John Talbott

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I second the Osgoode Hall recommendation, although they may not be serving "distinctly Canadian" food, they do try to work with local seasonal ingredients though.

Jake, you're not one of those heretics who believes that butter tarts aren't Canadian, are you? :blink:

OMG NO! :biggrin: Forgive me if I implied such a thing. She who hates most dessert has a special weakness for a good butter tart, a true Canadian tradition. I shall have to sample the ones at Osgoode. There is a little place in Bracebridge, Ontario that makes a fabulous one as well...

Good butter tarts also at Don's in Bala. I guess it depends on which side of Lake Muskoka the cottage is. John since you believe Foster Hewett a saint, you might be interested to know his cottage is on Acton Island not far from Bala. Rumour has it that he and his wife resided in separate cottages. :wacko:

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I second the Osgoode Hall recommendation, although they may not be serving "distinctly Canadian" food, they do try to work with local seasonal ingredients though.

Jake, you're not one of those heretics who believes that butter tarts aren't Canadian, are you? :blink:

OMG NO! :biggrin: Forgive me if I implied such a thing. She who hates most dessert has a special weakness for a good butter tart, a true Canadian tradition. I shall have to sample the ones at Osgoode. There is a little place in Bracebridge, Ontario that makes a fabulous one as well...

Good butter tarts also at Don's in Bala. I guess it depends on which side of Lake Muskoka the cottage is. John since you believe Foster Hewett a saint, you might be interested to know his cottage is on Acton Island not far from Bala. Rumour has it that he and his wife resided in separate cottages. :wacko:

The butter tarts at Don's are pretty good, but you have to try the ones in Bracebridge, little bakery cafe on the main street, bottom end, north side, I think it's called Marty's - best ones I've ever tried. Of course, Don's oatmeal cookies and scones go well with tea.

Sorry, John, I cannot think of a butter tart to recommend in Toronto, but then I really don't eat them very often!

Do let us know what and where you eat, please.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to report on a fabulous lunch I had of peameal bacon sandwiches, fiddleheads, butter tarts, Niagara and other red wines, fruit and both Quebec and Ontario cheeses at Marlene's. My French friends and I couldn't have been more impressed with "Canadian" cooking. We were blown away by the hospitality, quality and ambiance. Thanks to all who contributed to this thread and thanks especially to Marlene.

John Talbott

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It was my pleasure! I didn't have time to take any pictures, but the French certainly live up to their reputation for being gracious and friendly. I think they liked the fiddleheads in particular!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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You'll love the bread machine. No I didn't bake bread this time around. The buns for the sandwiches came from a bakery around the corner from me who does some of the best breads I've ever tasted.

The peameal bacon, fiddleheads and cheeses came from the St. Lawrence market, and the sandwiches were served with Kozliks Amazing Maple Mustard. I did make the butter tarts and I also cut up a honeydew, canteloupe and watermelon for a fruit plate. The fiddleheads were blanched then dressed with a mustard vinegrette. The wines were:

Reds: Chateau du Charmes (Canadian) a French bordeux who's name escapes me and an Italian Amarone. The white was a sauvingon blanc Wolf Blass from Australia. Mostly red was preferred.

Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I think they liked the fiddleheads in particular!

Well, I could be mistaken, but from reading the Fiddlehead thread I think Europeans are not familiar at all with them.

That's likely true. I'm pretty sure one of your friends was plotting to take some back to France with him!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Canadian Food is about Multiculturalism and not the melting pot- if we take our selves out of the British imperialist history model and add over 100 year French control time in our mix and bring that forward to the Canadian modern Central Canada Imperialism and the Toronto City state theory. You can have many Types of Canadian food depending on your point of view and what your angle is. Swing that with the fact that culture and food have a lot to do with what foods are grown in the area. Incorporate that with History (which is different- depending on whose history) - such as the Hudson Bay period- the Coeur de Bois-The Northwesters- the Loyalist- all these first have added to the base to what our food culture is. Add the cultures of many Asians who brought their cheap labour to British Canada- that is over a 100 years ago. Do you think that in a 100 years you might have diversified something from mother country (china I mean)

The TV dinner generation bastardized all food and brought us the modern convenience of the modern food world and an influx of Americanism- but we have been trading people and ideas since white man arrived on North America (us and canada). Our Cultural similarities are so tied to North South relationships and Cultures. That border is relatively new compared to History that is not British. America kicked out all the British Queen loving people and where do you think they came. Remember the Boston Tea Party- that in my Opinion is the Beginnings of Modern Canadian culture. The emergence of and Concentration of the Loyalist- concentrated one culture over the other but what gives us balls is the French peoples and Cultures did not just roll over and die- they fought to keep their religion and way of life. Also the French are not just in Quebec but all over north America and their Culture is strong and people still speak dialects of the language and cook things that are over a hundred years old

A 100 years of Italian- Chinese- Portuguese – Canadian foods; these are just a few of different cultures that call Toronto home. Toronto is a city of Neighborhoods and cultures- so when one wants to check out Canadian food- go to The Danforth, Kingsington Market, and the many China towns all over TO.

When will we branch out of our imperialist ways and call all these things Canadian- after all they all make this great county Canadian. Ps we also have had millions of people’s north and south of the border for hundreds of years that have changed alliances moving north or south. The Americans have been adding their Culture above the 49th for Centuries.

steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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I think this question of Canadian regionalism in cooking is very interesting. For me, growing up in Nova Scotia, I had no idea what "pea meal" bacon was (actually, I'm still not sure...is it ham?). Butter tarts were sold at Tim Horton's, but I can't recall anyone's mom making them. To me these were stereotypical "Upper Canadian" things read about in Canadian Living, but never actually seen. In Nova Scotia, seasonal ingredients made up a big part of home cooking...blueberry grunt or cobbler in august, my mom making strawberry jam the first week in July (the same time as my birthday - I always associate strawberries with my birthday); Rhubarb cobbler in May and June, actually, anything made with rhubarb. Tomatoes grown in the garden ripening on our window sill if the august weather was too foggy.

Lobster dinners in the summer. Mussels with lemon butter whenever. Arctic Char from Labrador when my Nanny came down for a visit. (Okay, that might have just been my family). Not a lot of Maple syrup, as there aren't any big producers in Nova Scotia, so it was always terribly expensive. I remember a British woman asking me here in Vietnam, "What is it with you Canadians? Why do you always bring Maple syrup when you visit another country? What am I supposed to do with it?" I will not print my tart reply.

Donairs from the Greek and Lebanese restaurants. Who could end a night on the town without one of these?

Scallop rolls, eaten in Digby, fresh out of the fryer, from the place on the highway...what was it called? Ethereal, lightly battered sweet scallops, in a fried bun (top split, like a lobster roll), dressed appropriately with mayo and relish. *sigh*

Tim Horton's coffee. A cult in the Maritimes. Has Starbucks opened a freestanding store in Halifax yet? I remember having to go to the Chapters to get one. You couldn't get people off their timmies.

Then there's Newfoundland cuisine...fish n' brewis. Somebody mentioned Seal flipper pie upthread. Those little balls of fried bread dough...what are they called? I loved those.

Canadian food is definitely regional. Although I do put vinegar on my fries! I used to love when Harvey's put the vinegar and ketchup bottles on the table...I'd double soak the fries so the cardboard container went soggy on the bottom. Good times!

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I would say that in Canada's case geographical size and diversity hasn't translated into diversity on the table -  and probably never will. The times are gone when pockets of people would stay at home, slowly developing regional specialties with locally available ingredients.  To your average person in Toronto, for example, there's probably little regard for what distinguishes peameal bacon from 'non-Canadian' meat products.

Although Toronto does not enjoy an identifiable regional cuisine, as the struggle of this thread attests, there are some Canadian centres, especially those that enjoy longer growing seasons or are closer to oceans, that absolutely refute this statement.

The excitement of watching nascent culinary DNA spool and twine lies not just in observing "pockets of people [who] would stay at home, slowly devloping regional specialties", but rather in the merging of local ingredients influenced by many mother cultures. It's a culinary laboratory, to be sure, but hardly in the sense of El Bulli or Alinea.

These are the centres (perhaps outside of Upper Canada, which has more steakhouses per capita than Omaha), where diversity of population has clearly translated into diversity on the table.

The Chefs' Table Society of BC and The Island Chefs' Collaborative are but two of the voices that speak strenuously to an identifiable regional cuisine. It's based on local, sustainable ingredients, increasingly cooked by local, sustainable chefs; the imperious Gunters and Jean-Lucs have faded away as surely as flocked wallpaper. To be replaced by guys named Rob and women named Karen who tonight might prepare smoked octopus bacon wrapping a seared Kagan Bay scallop, or side stripe shrimp-imbued mayonnaise licking an FAS salmon taco.

Further, comparisons to Europe are fatuous: Many Canadian cities with strong regional cuisines - such as Quebec City, Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver - are still evolving. On the West Coast, for instance, the population of inexpensive Asian restaurants show great diversity; the merger and emergence of combinant flavours and technique merely demonstrates the pursuit of a regional umami.

Hence the excitement: Here, like sex and Beethoven, the cooking is about tension and release.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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In Nova Scotia, seasonal ingredients made up a big part of home cooking...blueberry grunt or cobbler in august, my mom making strawberry jam the first week in July (the same time as my birthday - I always associate strawberries with my birthday); Rhubarb cobbler in May and June, actually, anything made with rhubarb. Tomatoes grown in the garden ripening on our window sill if the august weather was too foggy.

Having only lived in Ontario for 3 yrs( I'm from California), I do notice here a lot of what you talk about in NS. Seasonal ingredients are a big part of my summer routine as well. As soon as the rhubarb is ready, I bake with it. As soon as the strawberries are ready, I pick my own and make jams, pies, cakes, etc. Every weekend we go to the Farmer's Markets or the Mennonite farms and buy what is fresh and local. All you can eat lake fish dinners are the custom here every Friday night. I count the days until August when we have local corn( I'm in Huron County, a big corn producing county).

And Timmie's? Forget about it, there is ALWAYS a line at the drive thru. I only wish there was a Starbucks here. I have to drive to London for that and they finally opened a free-standing store.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This lunch at the St Lawrence Market felt very Canadian to me, just because I can't get this in the states. The woman at the counter seemed amazed that we didn't have peameal sandwiches in Philadelphia...

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It was delicious: a new tradition for me, I don't think I can leave town without one...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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