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9 Canadian foods you need to try once in your life

It is hard to beat a bite of squeaky cheese, crisp fries, and flavour-packed gravy. But this country offers more than just delicious poutine. Here are nine Canadian foods you need to try once in your life. 

Hawaiian Pizza, Ontario

Close up Woman's hand picked Hawaiian pizza from a wooden tray on the table.
Oat_Phawat | iStock

There is nothing like the addition of pineapple on pizza to divide a group. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed his opinion about it on Twitter. But for many Canadians, the combination of sweet pineapple and savoury ham is a winning combination. 

Hawaiian pizza doesn’t originate from Hawaii, as the name implies. Instead, it was created in Ontario by restaurant owner Sam Panopoulos in 1962, who decided to add the dish to his menu. Today, you can find the famous fruit-covered pizza at restaurants across the country. 

Nanaimo Bars, British Columbia

Nanaimo Bars
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If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to try a Nanaimo Bar. Originating in British Columbia, it is a layered dessert of a coconut-graham crust, creamy custard filling, and topped with chocolate. The bars are so iconic, Canada Post even printed postage stamps with them! 

When visiting Nanaimo, the hometown of the sugary treat, you can go on a self-guided tour of the Nanaimo bar trail. At the 39 stops, you can taste an assortment of flavours including peanut butter, maple bacon and the original. 

Montreal Bagels, Quebec

Varieties of bagels are in display inside the St-Viateur Bagel Shop in the Mile End, Montreal.
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Possibly more controversial than the theory of who came first, the chicken or the egg, is the origin story of the Montreal bagel. Not debated, however, is the popularity of Canada’s beloved breakfast staple.

It first appeared in the Montreal area in the early 1900s with the arrival of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. There are several contradictory accounts of who baked the first Montreal bagel. But it is believed to be either Isadore Schlafman, who had a small shop off Saint-Laurent Boulevard or baker Hyman Seligman who sold bread from a horse-drawn carriage in Mile End.

The bagel is made by boiling dough in a honey-water bath, hand-rolling the dough, and baking it in a wood-fired oven. Compared to the New York version, it is crispier, slightly sweeter, and denser. When visiting Montreal, stop by a bagel shop to get one fresh from the oven.

Saskatoon Berry Pie, Saskatchewan

Saskatoon berry pie
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Forget about your typical blueberry pie; when you are in Saskatchewan, you want a plate of Saskatoon berry pie served à la mode. Every heavenly bite is the perfect blend of buttery pastry, sweet fruit, and ice cream.

Did you know the City of Saskatoon is named after the berry used in the Saskatoon berry pie? The small community of Mortlach celebrates the province’s coveted berry in July with a parade, pancake breakfast, music, and dancing. All while offering an opportunity to sample the Saskatoon berry at its peak season. 

Lobster, Nova Scotia

Lobster Roll
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Heralded as a lobster lover’s paradise, Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coastline is a must-taste adventure in Canadian delicacies. In the 1800s, before there was efficient shipping of fresh seafood, the abundance of lobster on the east coast made it an everyday Canadian food staple.  

Today, particularly along Nova Scotia’s south shore, it is sought after for its quality. From the beautifully scenic Peggy’s Cove to Barrington, the “Lobster Capital” of Canada, guests can experience every facet that lobster offers, from lobster pizza, nachos, beer and even ice cream. 

Maple Taffy, Quebec

A close-up of a person at sugar shack pouring maple syrup onto snow to make maple sugar taffy
Warchi | iStock

Do you love to pour maple syrup on your pancakes? If so, mark your calendars as roughly February through April (the dates depend on the weather) is sugar shack season.  

At a sugar shack (known as a cabane à sucre in Quebec), you can discover how the sweet liquid gold is made and try maple taffy. The process is so Canadian, they pour the maple on snow, and you twirl it around a wooden stick. It is sticky, sweet and slightly warm, and you’ll undoubtedly want seconds. 

Butter Tarts, Ontario

Canadina food, the Butter Tart cut in half with filing coming out
Jennifer Gauld | iStock

Every bite of a gooey butter tart is pure bliss. If you’ve never had one before, you’re missing out. The dessert originates from Barrie, Ontario, where it appeared in a cookbook dating back to 1900.  

They are a flaky pastry filled with a sweet golden-brown filling made from butter, sugar, maple syrup and eggs. Today you can find tons of varieties, including some filled with add-ins like raisins, crunchy nuts, or fruit. 

For a tasty road trip, head to Kawarthas Northumberland. Here you will find the Kawarthas Northumberland Butter Tart Tour, which takes you to over 50 stops selling the best butter tarts in Ontario. 

BeaverTails, Ontario

The Ottawa born Canadian Food chain BeaverTails sing with Canadian Flags
PaulMcKinnon | iStock

Despite its name, a BeaverTail doesn’t contain beaver. Instead, it is a flat deep-fried doughnut topped with cinnamon and sugar, fruit, or other sweet toppings. Back in 1978, the first BeaverTails storefront opened in Ottawa. But today, the business has expanded across the country.  

President Obama and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield have eaten the popular treat, plus it was the answer on Jeopardy.

Poutine, Quebec

Closeup to a serving of Poutine being held by a woman
Mikeinlondon | iStock

If you ask Canadians what their favourite Canadian food is, the clear winner would be poutine. While it might seem like a simple combination, French fries, cheese curds, and gravy is the perfect trinity.  

It first appeared in Quebec snack bars in the 1950s. Today, poutine is available at a diverse range of eateries, from food trucks catering to your greasy food craving to high-end restaurants like Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon.

Eat your way across Canada with the help of CAA Travel

Explore somewhere new in Canada this season and try a Canadian food you’ve never had before. Go online to book a hotel or flight, or car rental (don’t forget Rental Vehicle Damage Insurance).

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