What is Canadian food? A commonly asked question, yet the answer is anything but simple. The easiest and most obvious answer is “anything maple, such as maple syrup, maple cookies, maple sugar” but this is not what Canadians eat, this is what is sold in souvenir shops and at airports. This is the equivalent of saying that Japanese food is “Tokyo Banana” or that Belgian cuisine is chocolate. Try again. The USA is often called a “melting pot society”, while Canada is often referred to as a multicultural land. As such, Canadian cuisine can easily be described as multicultural so that all culture’s foods become Canadian foods. Does this mean that sushi is Canadian food? How about sweet & sour pork? Pizza and pasta? This doesn’t quite ring true, since sushi is definitely Japanese, sweet & sour pork from China, and pizza and pasta are Italian. But there is Canadian sushi, Canadian sweet & sour pork and so on. There are also ingredients which are truly Canadian, such as buffalo meat, sockeye salmon and of course maple syrup.
Let’s step back and take a look at the history of Canada. Canada was part of the new world discovered by Columbus and explored and colonized by the French and the British and others over a period of several hundred years. Canada officially became a nation in 1867 and immigration has been a huge part of it’s growth from small colony to modern nation. Traditional food was thus made up of 3 distinct culinary cultures- that of the aboriginal people, the French and the English. In the years since it’s independence, huge numbers of immigrants have brought with them a multitude of other culinary cultures and concepts. All of this has led to an explosion of Canadian restaurants run by Canadian chefs making Canadian food. These chefs come from a variety of backgrounds, they have a seemingly infinite amount of recipes and culinary tracts to work from and they have access to uniquely Canadian ingredients.
What all of this amounts to is that Canadian cuisine has become a modern mix of cultures, foods and ingredients which is known as Canadian fusion. Fusion is the mixing of 2 or more things into something new and more powerful. Originality is encouraged and success and failure are partners in this competitive and innovative business: creative cuisine. Those who succeed do so by creating truly amazing, unique and necessarily popular dishes and styles. Some examples include Miso Maple-Glazed Salmon, Wild Rice & Smoked Salmon Sushi, Deep Fried Mars Bars, and Wasabi-salsa Tacos. One of the most famous food stands in Vancouver is called Japadog, which sells Japanese style hot dogs such as the Daikon-Dog. What is Canadian food? In simplest terms it is internationally inspired, multicultural fusion cuisine. Canadian food is a mixture of many elements, always with a little “Canadian” twist!