How We Cook, Eat and Drink: The Canada Letter

But I think we’re getting to a point where we might say, gosh, what’s more Canadian than the dosa or the string hopper or many other different things.

How do you make a dosa in our climate? And with the rice that’s available here, with the potatoes that are available here, the chilies that are available? That’s a very different and new kind of dish. And there you have in some sense the making of what is now Canadian food.

Canadians cook food in ways that come from all over the world but they haven’t adopted much from the indigenous people who were first here. Why is that?

There was a long and aggressive campaign to deny that kind of cooking. I’ve been struck in recent years about the effort among indigenous chefs to not only think about ingredients and particular kinds of methods of preparation but also about how they would like to present that to the broader public.

I had a fantastic meal just a few weeks ago with my 8-year-old daughter at Ku-Kum Kitchen in Toronto. We ate just a truly memorable dish of roasted seal loin paired with two different kinds of beets.

It has been targeted by people who objected to them serving seal. That’s unfortunate and it really isn’t the story. I think Joseph Shawana is one of the chefs who really deserves an enormous amount of attention for finding ingredients that mean so much in his cultural and linguistic traditions and bringing them with such pride and pleasure to the table.


Whisky samples in a blending room at Alberta Distillers.

Bryce Meyer for The New York Times

The articles about Canadian food have already started rolling out. Sara Bonisteel took on that modest icon of Canadian cooking, the butter tart, and also offered a butter tart recipe and one for butter tart squares.

Ms. Bonisteel also has a request. If your family has a favorite butter tart recipe or variation, please send it to for a future article.

David Sax visited Toronto to report on the rise of Syrian restaurants there. Clay Risen put away some Canadian whisky and Robert Simonson downed a Caesar, Canada’s contribution to cocktails. (That article warns non-Canadian readers away from calling the drink a Bloody Caesar.)

More articles will appear next week leading up to Wednesday’s publication in the print editions of the special Canada Food section.

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