What is Comfort?
Everyone has something which comforts them. For many individuals, their comfort food lets them connect to their childhood, culture, community and more.
In Canada, the following dishes are have been and still are comfort food for many people.
What is your comfort food? Will one of today’s dishes become a new comfort for you?
Salmon Cake with Maple Chutney
Salmon represents culture, identity, and existence for First Nations people. It is good for your mental health. Canada is known for salmon on both coasts.
75% of the world’s maple syrup is produced by Canada, 90% from Quebec. Indigenous people were the first to tap trees for sap, boiling it down into Canada’s original sweetener.
Chinese immigrants created this while working on the Canadian railroad in the 19th century. Most workers ate meat, potatoes, and corn separately, but Chinese workers mixed rations to create a communal dish. French Canadians adopted this recipe, calling it “pâté chinois,” which translates to Chinese pie.
Indigenous Corn Cakes with Local Greens Pesto
Corn is a staple food in Indigenous culture. In Canada, it was first harvested by the First Nations between Manitoba and Lake Superior.
Mushrooms and Sunchokes Ragout
Native Americans introduced the New World sunchoke to the Spanish, who brought them back to Europe. When roasted, sunchoke roots are smooth with a slight nutty taste.
During the 1950s, the idea to add cheese curds and gravy originates back to rural Quebec. The popularity of this French-Canadian favorites has spread far and wide throughout Canada.
Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches
Jewish immigrants introduced what became Montreal-style smoked meat in the late 19th or 20th century. They brought it to Montreal from Eastern Europe.
Oka Mac and Cheese
Oka is a semi-soft washed rind cheese originally manufactured by Trappist monks located in Oka, Quebec, Canada as far back as 1893. Monks of Cistercian Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac heavily influeneced this cheese.
Through an affiliation with the Université de Montréal, the Trappist monastery created an agricultural school. Frequently called the Abbaye Notre-Dame-du-Lac, the monastery became well known for its Port-Salut cheese, made from a Breton recipe brought from France.
Split Pea and Ham Soup
On long journeys, ships would be stocked with shelf-stable ingredients, like vinegar, honey, cheese, rice, legumes, salted meats and fish.
As Canada’s first settlers arrived from France, the soup served on ships gradually evolved and came to include game meats, pork, and locally grown ingredients. They depended on the forests for meat, but farmed pigs along with vegetables, fruit, peas, and beans. Soup was always part of the meal.
Whether called habitant soup or “soupe aux pois cassés” or split pea soup, this early settler soup with many names became a staple item on the menu for Quebec’s settlers. It was a filling and nutritious meal that helped them survive harsh Canadian winters.
3 Sisters Soup with Bannock Bread
The Three Sisters is a vegetable medley of corn, squash, and beans planted together. They support and nourish each other. For the Chickasaw people, they have provided nutrition for generations. These three sisters grow together and support each other as they thrive.
Bannock is a type of fry bread, which originates from Scotland but was adopted by the Indigenous peoples of Canada, particularly the Métis of western Canada.
First Nations cooked their Bannock by a variety of methods. Some rolled the dough in sand and pit-cooked it, brushing the sand off once it was ready to eat. Others baked it in clay or rock ovens. Also, some wrapped the dough around green, hardwood sticks, resting slanted over an open fire. Bannock is a staple in the diets of early settlers and fur traders.
Butter tarts were common in pioneer Canadian cooking and remain a characteristic pastry of Canada. It is primarily eaten in and associated with the English-speaking provinces of Canada. The earliest published Canadian recipe is from Barrie, Ontario, dating back to 1900 and can be found in The Women's Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook.
There aren’t many things that taste better after an outdoor skate than a Beaver Tail. Deep fried to perfection in hot oil — crispy on the outside and soft on the inside — then covered in cinnamon sugar. This Canuck crowd-pleaser has become an emblem of Canadiana, as synonymous with the country as poutine or the butter tart, but its connection to the national symbol sets it apart, somehow.
Are Beaver Tails the most Canadian treat of them all? Well, you know you’ve hit it big when Obama drops by during his first official presidential visit to Ottawa in 2009, you’re a question in Trivial Pursuit (which was invented in Halifax, in case you were wondering) and on Jeopardy, and the term Beaver Tail can be found in the Canadian Oxford dictionary.
Comfort in Food
After learning about some of the various comfort foods Canada has to offer, are any on your to-try list?
If so, drop by V1 on February 9th for some Canadian Comfort food!
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1