The Canadian Food Experience Project: My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory

Flowerpot Island71

When I think of Canadian food, such things as ketchup flavoured potato chips, poutine, and butter tarts come to mind. I actually don’t recall the first time I ever tasted them. Except for salt and vinegar, I still prefer ketchup chips over all other flavours and a hockey game won’t be complete without a carton of fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy. But to pinpoint the first time I tasted them is near impossible. I was probably young and completely ignorant to the experience I was about to have. Maybe I was out with my dad who was a little more experimental with food than my mom. It wasn’t until quite later in my life that I started appreciating flavours more. I can tell you about the first time I had frog legs, alligator, dark chocolate, or the best pizza ever in Italy.

Ponte De Vecchio from The Tasty Gardener

Part of me wonders if we take for granted authentic Canadian food because we don’t know what it is like to not have it. I was recently at Eat, Write, Retreat in Philadelphia where some great locals treated me to their famous Cheesesteak sandwich. When I mentioned I would return the favor the next time they were in Toronto by taking them for poutine I was shocked that I actually had to explain what it was.That being said there are still things across Canada I’ve never heard of or tried either. That’s what is so great about this The Canadian Food Experience Project I am participating in with over 50 outstanding food bloggers across this great country. Every month we will post a story that is purely Canadian: about our people and our food.

So with our inaugural topic being about our first autenthic canadian food memory it got me thinking about my lack of one. But like any good food blogger preparing to talk about food, I did some research and Googled “Canadian food”. Most was what I expected. Some I had completely forgotten about. And that’s where I discovered I did have a first Canadian food. Beaver Tails!

I’m quite surprised with myself it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I enjoyed these amazing tail shaped discs of fried dough. It was the first summer together for DH and I as a couple and we had gone to visit his parents at their cottage in Sauble Beach. Since I hadn’t spent time in that part of Ontario before we decided to make a trip up to Tobermory and Flower Pot Island for the day.

Flower pot Island from the tasty gardenerWhile waiting for the ferry I saw this guy.

Flower pot Island from the tasty gardener

Who really can resist the smell that happens when dough hits hot bubbling oil?  And the choices of toppings for these were sinfully abundant.  Cream cheese icing, Nutella, apples, cinnamon, icing sugar, candies, the list just went on and on.  I had one with cream cheese icing.  I don’t know what DH had.  I was too busy concentrating on my gooey mess.  They were amazing.  The icing was melting off of the still-warm dough and dripping down my hands.  There wasn’t enough napkins in this entire country to help but it was worth every sticky finger and smear on my face.

That was a day of discovering. Me with the beaver tails, DH learning about my fear of snakes (another story, for another time). But 100% Canadian.

Flower pot Island from the tasty gardenerAgain like any good foodie for the purpose of this post I attempted to make my own beaver tails at home.  I used  homemade applesauce and powdered sugar for our toppings.They tasted amazing but it wasn’t quite the same without breeze in my hair, the smell of the lake, and the noise of summer cottagers.

Beaver Tails
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp quick rising yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 3-3 1/2 cups flour

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of your mixing bowl combine the warm water and yeast and let rest 2 minutes.
  2. Mix in the milk, egg, oil and sugar.
  3. Fold in the flour 1/2 cup at a time until a sticky yet firm dough has been formed.
  4. Cover bowl, place in a warm place and let rise 1 hour.
  5. In deep pan over medium-high heat add enough oil to come up the sides about 1 inch. Heat to 385 degrees F.
  6. While oil is heating pinch off dough in golf ball size chunks and using your hands flatten into a tail shape.
  7. CArefully place in hot oil and cook for 2 minutes turning once, until golden brown.
  8. Drain on paper towel then serve warm with your favorite topping.
Recipe Type: Dessert
7.6.4
255

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.   I hope you enjoy my experiences and stories with Canadian food and hope you get a chance to check out the other bloggers involved. Please leave a comment below about your own experience based on the monthly theme.

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Comments

  1. They are called beaver tails in Ontario and where I live now in British Columbia they are called horse blankets. My parents had a cottage for many years on the Bruce Peninsula at Lions Head and Sauble Beach and Wasaga Beach are old haunts. My story of my first food experience was in Newfoundland but I could easily have talked about the first time I ever had mile high lemon meringue pie and gnocchi at a restaurant in Wasaga Beach:D, perogies or even pizza.
  2. In Alberta at summertime festivals, Beaver Tails are sold as Elephant Ears. =) I first had them in Ottawa, though, on a trip with my high school's choir when I was in Grade 12.
  3. Oh Wasaga Beach. I grew up in Barrie so it was a regular haunt for me as well. I love how beavertails are also know as horse blankets and elephant ears. Love how they keep the animal reference.
  4. Surprisingly enough I have never had a Beaver Tail. But thanks to your recipe I will now! Cinnamon and sugar on mine please! Thanks Heather.
  5. Dear Heather, What a fun, and unexpected read. It has never dawned on me to think of Ketchup Potato Chips as Canadian food. I don't even want to! :) Yet, when my daughter comes home (she lives in San Fran), she stocks up on red licorice, Smarties, MacIntosh Toffee and all sorts of crazy junk that I never knew was "ours". Part of that is the generation I hail from.. where Halloween was about the only time of the year we would get chocolate bars or the like... and plain, BBQ and onion chips were the only three flavours to be had and were a very very special summer treat to be served with hot dogs... and the like. Now, to your Beaver Tails. Have heard of them, and never had one. I am going to do a little research on the origin, as I have had Elephant Ears that sound almost identical, but they were just topped with powdered sugar. Whoever thought of calling them Beaver Tails is a genius and I wonder how wide spread this treat is, across the county. It certainly hasn't hit my neck of the woods yet, but we Northern Albertan's dig our heels in mighty tight and resist almost anything new. ;0 Loved the read! :) V
    • When I was at the recent Eat, Write, Retreat in Philadelphia I had this discussion with some locals about ketchup chips and other ideas we stock up on when we are in their respective countries. Anytime I'm in the US I get Take5 chocolate bars.
  6. I always thought that beaver tails was a Canadiana joke. I had no idea that people actually ate them. I will have to watch for them when I am up north!
  7. I'm just getting around to checking out alll of the Canadian Food Experience project blogs now! I moved to Minnesota a few years ago, and I didn't realize (until this past week) - you CAN'T get beaver tails anywhere here! It's such a simple thing, and so many cultures have fried bread dough of some sort... how weird that it's actually unique to Canada! Great blog post :)

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  1. [...] Lang from Toronto, Ontario, in the same minute at the FBC2013 Conference in April. She writes at The Tasty Gardener and on a trip up to Tobermory and Flower Pot Island she tasted her first ever Beaver Tail. Me? I [...]

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