Here’s Why Canada’s Culinary Scene Doesn’t Get The Spotlight It Deserves

“Hey, let’s have Canadian food for dinner!”—said no one ever. Maybe it just doesn’t roll off the tongue. Or, maybe it’s just that nobody knows how incredibly delicious Canadian dishes are.

A lot of great Canadian dishes don’t get the spotlight they deserve. You need to try out the food scene from restaurants in Saskatoon, Toronto, Quebec, or Montreal.

5 Reasons Why Canada’s Culinary Scene is Underrated

Despite how great the food is, Canada’s culinary scene is still underrated. We can trace these back to the following reasons:

Too Many Cooks

You know how the saying goes—Too many cooks can spoil the broth. In this case, Canada’s culinary influences are the cooks and the broth is its food scene.

Canada is known to offer a plethora of food from across the globe. Some people even prefer Canada’s version to the original. But this is where the first problem lies.

There isn’t a cohesive pallet when it comes to Canadian cuisine. The food is inspired by a lot of cultures and there are only a few dishes that have authentic Canadian roots.

People Think Canadian Food Doesn’t Exist

What even is Canadian food? That’s a tough question to answer for people outside the country.

Most of the people that made Canada their home came from different parts of the globe that brought their food with them.

For example, Nova Scotia specializes in seafood. Meanwhile, Quebec cuisine carries strong French influences. And, Ontario has great German food.

But, because there’s no distinct taste as a whole, the food isn’t known outside of Canada as “Canadian Food”. Some even say Canadian food is “English Food”.

Thankfully, Anthony Bourdain filmed an episode exploring the Toronto food scene back in 2013. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any major exposure in the following years making the food not that known internationally

Filling But Not Memorable

A lot of great Canadian dishes are comfort food you’d get to go. Poutine, bagels, smoked meats, and sandwiches are prime examples.

The food tastes amazing and gets you full. But, they’re not that memorable. If you’re a foreigner that asks for food recommendations, some people might tell you to “follow the food trucks”.

No National Dish

Canada has no national dish that's easily recognizable worldwide.

Let’s take the Philippines as an example. It’s a country where there’s a “National” everything. One of the most notable of these is the country’s national food—adobo.

It’s a dish foreigners immediately associate it with. The closest thing to this in Canada is Maple Syrup. Some people don’t even know Poutine is from Canada.

Canadian food writer Jennifer Cockrall-King even said:

“There is no single definition of Canadian cuisine. It starts with ingredients that spring from the landscape and with traditional dishes steeped in the region’s history and culture”.

Canada Is Massive

The challenge of defining what Canadian cuisine truly is comes from the country’s massive size. Add to this Canada’s aboriginal ancestry, mixed cultures, and long history of immigration.

This leads to food identity issues stemming from both a geographical and cultural standpoint. Canadian food does exist. However, it’s difficult to articulate what truly is “Canadian food”.

Underrated Canadian Dishes You Need To Try

Now that we know the issues surrounding why Canadian food is underrated, let’s take a look at five Canadian Dishes you need to try.


This dish is a legendary Canadian comfort food. Its basic form uses three simple ingredients—fries, gravy, and cheese curds. That’s a lot of carbs and fat you need to work through but it’s well worth it.


This French-Canadian dish is a minced meat pie containing a plethora of meats. You’ve got pork, beef, and vale combined with savory seasonings. It’s a heavier meal but it’s sure to leave you full and satisfied.

Montreal Bagels

These bagels are baked different. The bagels are boiled in honey water and then baked giving it a sweeter taste and fluffier texture. You can eat it as is or pair it with meats, cheese, avocados, or any variety of spread you want.

Beaver Tails

No animals were harmed in the making of this dish. It’s actually a dessert sold during fairs and festivals across Canada. They’re fried dough shaped in the form of a beaver’s tail. You can eat it as is or add toppings like sugar, cinnamon, or chocolate if you’ve got a sweet tooth.

Nanaimo Squares

Nanaimo bars are arguably the kings of Canadian desserts. The dessert is named after the town it originated from—Nanaimo, Vancouver. It’s a square-shaped dessert with layers of chocolate ganache, and custard-flavored butter, stacked on a graham base for that crunch.

Key Takeaways

You better try out Canada’s culinary scene, or else, you’ll end up being sorry that you didn’t. To recap, Canadian cuisine is incredibly delicious. The issue is that the food scene suffers from:

  • Too many influences.
  • No geographical and cultural cohesion.
  • Difficulties in articulating what truly is “Canadian Cuisine”.


Michelle Li

Michelle Li, with a background in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University, has explored the intersection of health and culinary arts for over 15 years. Joining us in 2020, her approach to cooking is informed by her extensive travels and studies in global food cultures. Michelle is also a certified sommelier, further enriching her gastronomic insights. Her hobbies include organic gardening and participating in culinary workshops. Michelle is an avid blogger on food sustainability and enjoys hosting cooking classes in her local community.

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