You'd be hard pressed to find a Canadian restaurant in the United States (except for the 300 Tim Hortons franchises...we'll get to that), but Canada's cultural and geographic diversity has produced quite a few foods that can boast Canadian heritage.
Arctic char: This is the northernmost freshwater fish in North America, caught commercially since the 1940s. Char is a little like salmon in color and texture, but its unique flavor elevates it to a delicacy.
Back bacon: Also called Canadian bacon in the United States, this cut has less fat than other kinds of bacon. It has a taste and texture similar to ham. Peameal bacon is cured back bacon that's coated with ground yellow peas.
Bakeapples: These are also referred to as baked-apple berries, chicoute, and cloudberries. Found mostly in the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, they taste--surprise--like a baked apple. These can be eaten raw or used in pies and jams.
Bangbelly: To ward off some of the wettest, windiest, nastiest cold on the continent, Newfoundlanders have long boiled up a pudding of flour, rice, raisins, pork, spices, molasses, and sometimes seal fat. The result is comparable to bread pudding and is commonly served at Christmastime.
Beavertails: No aquatic rodents are harmed in the making of this snack. These fried, flat pastries, shaped like a beaver's tail, are similar to that carnival staple called elephant ears. They can be topped with sugar, cinnamon, fruit, even cream cheese and salmon. An Ottawa specialty.
Butter tart: Along with so many other aspects of their culture, the Scots brought these to Canada. These are little pecan pies without the pecans, perhaps with chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts. You haven't had Canadian cuisine until you've had a butter tart.
Cipaille: This layered, spiced-meat-and-potato pie is most popular in Quebec. Look for it on menus as "sea pie" in Ontario, not for any aquatic additives but because that's exactly how the French word is pronounced in English.
See more Canadian Food Facts on the next page.
More Canadian Food Facts
Cretons: Break your morning butter-and-jam routine and have some cretons instead! This Quebecois tradition is a seasoned pork-and-onion po/ootZ often spread on toast.
Dulse: This tasty, nutritious, protein-packed seaweed washes up on the shores of Atlantic Canada and is used in cooking much the same ways one uses onions: chopped, sauted, and added to everything from omelets to bread dough.
Malpeques: Many consider these Prince Edward Island delicacies the world's tastiest oysters, harvested with great care by workers who rake them out of the mud by hand. If you can find them, the "pride of P.E.I." will cost you dearly.
Maple syrup: Close to 90 percent of Canada's maple syrup comes from Quebec, and Canada is the world's largest producer of this sweet, sticky pancake topping.
Nanaimo bar: New York also claims this confection, but the thoughtful Manhattanite doesn't utter that on Vancouver Island. It's a chocolate bar layered with nuts, buttercream, and sometimes peanut butter or coconut. Nanaimo bars are well liked throughout Canada and in bordering U.S. regions (especially around Seattle).
Perogies: Canada's large waves of Slavic immigration have brought these Polish-Ukrainian delights to the True North. They're small dumplings with a variety of fillings, including cheese, meat, potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, and more. Top with sour cream and onions.
Ployes: Acadia, the Cajuns' ancestral homeland, loves its buckwheat pancakes. But these greenish-yellow griddle cakes contain no milk or eggs, so they're not actually pancakes. Eat them with berries, whipped cream, cretons, or maple syrup.
Poutine: Dump gravy and cheese curds on french fries: Voilla poutine! Quebec is the homeland of poutine, but you can get it all over the nation. Ignore your cardiologist's entreaties for greater enjoyment.
Rye: This is the Canadian name for Canadian whiskey, though it's actually made with a blend of rye, corn, and barley. Prohibition in the United States created a boom for Canadian distillers, and this unique style became part of the national identity. Rye is generally sweeter than bourbon and retains a worldwide following among liquor connoisseurs.
Tim Hortons: Horton was a solid National Hockey League defenseman of long service to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he's best known for founding a ubiquitous chain of donut shops. Though Tim Hortons sells coffee, breakfast foods, and sandwiches, the donuts are the most popular. With more than 2,700 franchises, you have to go pretty far into the Canadian bush to be deprived of your Tim's fix.
This article was adapted from "The Book of Incredible Information," published by West Side Publishing, a division of Publications International, Ltd.