What’s essentially a flattened donut without a hole, BeaverTails are heralded as a quintessential Canadian dish. The recipe was handed down in Graham Hooker’s family for generations, but it wasn’t until 1978 that he started to introduce it to a wider audience. A year later, he opened his first BeaverTails outlet in Ottawa to dole out the treat, which can come topped with sugar, Nutella and a variety of other sweets.
Where to eat it: BeaverTails has since expanded across the country, with locations in Canadian landmarks such as Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain and Halifax’s Waterfront.
5. “Canadian” Pizza
Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes (not to mention taste buds) to help us understand what makes a dish truly Canadian. Take Canadian-style pizza, for example, which is perhaps best defined by the menu at Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza in (of all places) Berlin, Germany. How did a German pizzeria end up making a name for itself with pies inspired by the Great White North? It turns out one of the owners did a high school exchange in Peterborough, Ontario, where he was impressed with the local pizza. It wasn’t quite as fried and doughy as American-style, yet the toppings were more inventive than traditional Italian-style pies. The resulting pizza on his Berlin menu is somewhere in-between: a thin-crust pizza with an array of creative pizzas toppings. Flavours include Cronenberg Crash (cilantro pesto, tandoori tofu, mango, peanuts and red pepper) and the Wayne Gretzky (feta, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, Italian salami, speck and chorizo, hot peppers, chili flakes and caramelized onions). Maple syrup is proudly displayed as one of the additional (and complimentary) toppings.
Where to eat it: Ron Telesky’s is located in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood in Berlin.
Consider yourself a pizza connoisseur? A pizza tour is one of the best things to do in Chicago on a two-day layover.
Photo: Maple Key Tart Co.
6. Butter Tarts
The origins of this rich, delectable and quintessentially Canadian dish can be traced back to the late 19th century. Consisting of a delicate, crumbly crust and a creamy centre made of a butter, sugar and egg mixture, there’s constant debate over whether raisins should be added to the mix. (Our recent Reader’s Digest Instagram poll showed Canadians were evenly split on the issue, with 50 per cent supporting raisins, and the other 50 per cent opposed.)
More fascinating facts about the humble butter tart:
- Mary F. Williamson, a retired fine arts librarian at York University in Toronto, traced the earliest mention of the butter tart recipe to 1900 in the Royal Victoria Cook Book.
- Margaret MacLeod’s recipe for “filling tarts” is the first documented recipe and called for one cup of sugar, a half-cup butter, two eggs and a cup of currants.
- By midcentury, Eaton’s department store in Toronto included a butter tart in its boxed picnic lunches.
Where to eat it: Most coffee shops and bakeries will have them on hand, but it’s worth making a trip to Ontario—the birthplace of the butter tart—if you want to get serious about this sweet treat. In Toronto, the Baker Sisters are renowned for their Maple Key Tart Co. butter tarts—a must-buy on any Saturday morning stroll through the Evergreen Brickworks farmers’ market. In rural Kenilworth, Ontario, you will find the Butter Tart Trail, a string of 18 bakeries which sell the prized pastries. If that’s not enough to satisfy your craving, drive three hours east to the City of Kawartha Lakes, which offers its own Butter Tart Tour.
Want to test a Canadian’s reputation for being polite? Uttering one of these uniquely Canadian insults should do the trick.