A Mouthful of Canada

This is how much I know about Canada. It’s cold. And they have universal healthcare. The end. See you next week.

Picture: weknowmemes.com

Picture: weknowmemes.com

Oh come on. Can’t give up this easily. Sweet mother would disown me. I could list some funny statements about Canada. Everybody loves those. Little factoids to make people nod. Such as: Canada adopted its flag almost 100 years after its independence, which is fair because it would take me even longer to draw a maple leaf with bilateral symmetry.

Nah. It’s been done. Okay, how about something on how white Canada is, you know, the demographics. Well, Sweet Mother beat me to that one. And while I live in America, I’m not really American, so I can’t wax lyrical on the little differences between the maple leaf and the stars and stripes. Not in a funny, self-deprecating way. From me, it would just appear deprecating. I have never lived in Canada, and I get my Canada information from Wikipedia and How I Met Your Mother. I speak a little French—but I only end up annoying the Americans and exasperating those from Québec (Québecese? Québecians? I can’t say Québécois. Sounds fruity.) Should I write about a Canadian sport? How about a sex act that began in Canada? Like foreplay.

Such are the meager outpourings of my grad-school addled mind after a jiggling for ideas. Perhaps I could excavate some inspiration from a southerly direction. No no, norther than that. I mean my gut, which usually outstrips my brain in saving my ass; Let’s focus on some really Canadian eats and drinks. Here are some things I must try when I eventually go to Canada.

Montreal poutine from La Banquise in Montreal

Photo: Wikipedia

Poutine: I can never forget watching Samuel L Jackson and Travolta in Pulp Fiction take a bite out of the Dutch for drowning their french fries in mayo. I sat there thinking, “So I shouldn’t do it?” To my mind there was nothing better on deep-fried pieces of potato gleaming with half the gross domestic product of Saudi Arabia than eager helpings of mayonnaise. Nonetheless, ketchup it was from then on. But poutine—god bless the Quebec people—gives you fries embellished with cheese curds with chicken, veal, or turkey gravy on top. Suck on that, ketchup Nazis.

Vladimir Putin

Ceci n’est pas une Poutine. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Picture: jenkakio.wordpress.com

La fin du monde: Literally, it means ‘the end of the world.’ Which it probably is, because nothing turns a beer into an Appletini faster than giving it a French name—a feminine one at that. Why couldn’t they have named it le something? Le is masculine, le has a mustache. La has a bikini wax. Thankfully they don’t serve it with an umbrella and a pineapple. Although, it is a spicy bière blonde with coriander and orange peel essence. Who am I kidding? It looks delicious. What bothers me though is where in Canada is it hot enough for you to enjoy a cold one? I always figured Canada to be a bunch of people huddled in blankets sipping hard liquor and waiting for Bryan Adams Celine Dion Justin Bieber to go away on tour.

Image: Reddit

Nanaimo bar: In a display of world ignorance that would grant me American citizenship, I assumed that a Nanaimo bar was a Japanese pub where women with anatomically impossible breasts serve sake with a slap on each cheek. Apparently, Nanaimo is a place in British Columbia. These are bar cookies consisting of a viscous, creamy filling which drowns a chewy graham cracker with bits of  coconut and chopped nuts, sheathed in bittersweet dark chocolate, according to foodess.com. Looks like three layers of heaven to me. This after a few rounds of poutine will ensure I’ll be long gone when social security finally goes bankrupt.

Butter tart: Dear New Yorkers. You know how you have these cravings prowling through West Village because you were kicked out for demanding ten tequila shots twenty minutes after last call? This is what you’re hankering for. A petite pastry tart, you bite into its crunchy exterior to find a gooey, mushy filling of butter, sugar, egg, and syrup. Kind of like a pie but with a runnier filling—according to Wikipedia. Sounds like God’s answer to the munchies after too much Lafite.

This Indian would love this Canadian delicacy after some Scotch on a New York night (Photo: Wikipedia)

Jackson Triggs Canadian Cabernet Franc Icewine

Canadian Cabernet Franc Icewine (Photo:Christopher S. Penn)

Icewine: This thing is genius. They let the grapes freeze—something you achieve by simply waiting in Canada—so that the liquid remaining is highly concentrated, thus extracting a smoother-than-a-moose-fur-jacket dessert wine. Leave it to the Canadians to turn getting shit-faced into thermodynamics. Making it sounds pretty thankless. You pluck the grapes by hand at around -13˚C (9˚F). And an entire vine gives you about a glass of wine. Still, even a shot-glass-full of this grapey goodness might be just what the doctor ordered.

The more discerning of you might notice that I lean toward luxury in the eats. Consequently, the holidays are a particularly testing phase for my waistline. Nonetheless, these are the things I must try when I go to Canada. If some of these aren’t quintessentially Canadian or if there are others I must not leave the Great White North without sampling, let me know.

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67 thoughts on “A Mouthful of Canada

  1. Hey Bharat! Great post. I can’t believe I just read a blog that was pretty much about my favorite subject – junk food. Nanaimo bars? Love’em. I believe in some circles they are called “New York Slice”, and we’re not talking pizza. I think I’ve tasted a bit of everything you wrote about except Celine, who of course is a feast for the ears that everybody loves to hate, or is it hates to love? In my role as a junk food aficionado, I have discovered the finest butter tarts,in Ontario and the locations of the best french fry trucks. Still looking for a bakery that makes rye bread that’s anywhere close to what you find in Winnipeg. Anyways, I digress. Have a good one!

    • Thanks! Regarding Celine, I’ll admit shamelessly that I liked ‘My Heart Will Go On’ when it came out—I was twelve, so I think I can be excused that minor trespass! Man! Your description suddenly made all these foods real and mouth-watering. I must visit Canada sometime!

    • The best butter tarts are indeed found in Little Britain! My brother-in-law’s girlfriend bakes them! How funny. I hadn’t even heard of Little Britain until I met her.

  2. You definitely named some of our best offerings to date. Mind you, I think the average poutiner limits the ingredients to french fries, gravy and cheese. Also, some places offer it with a white (chicken flavor) gravy also and I actually prefer that. My arteries harden at the mere thought of one. 🙂 Your post was very clever. Great job. 🙂

  3. You had me at Nanaimo bars. I’ve never heard of these enchanting squares before, but now that I know about them, I will probably never stop thinking about them. Likewise about the butter tarts. I have prowled the Village many, many times in search of post-imbibing snacks, and if butter tarts were available here, that would be my go-to food. Same with poutine. I don’t like the idea of the cheese curds because I’m not a cheese person, but if I could get poutine without the curds, I’d be all over that. Want to open a butter tart & poutine stand here in NYC with me?

  4. I only recently found out that Americans don’t know what butter tarts are… and if ever I was grateful to have been born on this side of the border, that was the moment. They are my favourite thing in the whole wide world (well, after my son… and maybe his father… maybe).

    Poutine always looked too gross for me to taste, but I finally had some last year. It is, in a word, amazing.

    Your description of Nanaimo bars made me laugh pretty hard. They are heavenly, btw.

    • Butter tarts sound delectable. In fact reading about all these dishes makes me crazy. Butter tarts and universal health care for the atherosclerosis they’ll cause make Canada a North American paradise. 🙂

  5. Pingback: My post on Canadica “A Mouthful of Canada” | Bharatwrites

  6. So many foods I grew up with that I never knew were from my home country. It made me sad the day I found out that Butter Tarts have not been in everyone’s mouth. The earth is a darker place for it.

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