If celebrity chefs are the new rock stars, few people fit the part as well as Montreal's Chuck Hughes.
The famously dreamy and charismatic 36-year-old co-owner of Garde Manger and star of "Chuck's Day Off" is a former punk band roadie who's covered in tattoos and candid about his recovery from years of partying too hard with drugs and alcohol.
"It’s weird, there was a part of my life where I thought I was a rock star, and I thought I was the most important person, and I thought I was the shit," Hughes said in a recent interview in Toronto while promoting his new book, also called Chuck's Day Off.
"I thought I was a whole bunch of things and I think it was just me being young and not really knowing who I was and trying to project an image of Mr. Cool ... people have this vision of the industry that’s glamorous but really it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours and no pay."
Well, Hughes is getting paid a lot more these days than when he was slaving as a line cook and catering music festivals. He's also gotten to travel all over the United States, Mexico and Asia thanks to his shows that include "Chuck's Week Off" and "Chuck's Eat the Street."
"Chopping carrots has literally brought me around the world, twice," he jokes.
His new book, part autobiography, part cookbook and part shout-out to his down-to-earth inner circle, doesn't go into his addiction and recovery, but it's a humbling ode to the dozens of suppliers, staff and other characters who have been the backbone of his success — from his mom, girlfriend (sorry, ladies) and mentors David McMillan and Frederic Morin of Joe Beef, to the linen guy, oyster shuckers, hockey team, and even the dog walkers he's befriended over the years.
Besides talking about opening his first restaurant in Toronto (he said he's serious about it happening in the next year or two), Hughes spoke to The Huffington Post Canada about the one thing he misses about drinking, the dirty things that happen in restaurant kitchens and the loves of his life.
What does 'Canadian' food mean to you?
I’ve struggled with that question a lot ... I really feel that it’s just really a cuisine of big, bold ingredients and kind of focusing on the elements that Canada brings to the plate, which is the best of everything. We have the best seafood, whether it’s on the East Coast or the West Coast. In between, the Prairies are phenomenal for everything from wheats and vegetables ... and in Quebec and even Ontario, we’re blessed with having such great markets and such great food, so I really think it’s a focus on really good ingredients. The more we’re defining ourselves in the world I really think it’s a focus on great ingredients and being able to use simple technique and kind of being humbled by the food and just letting it speak for itself. And that’s the trend that I see most in Canada. It’s weird that we don’t have a real definition. For a while if felt like people were associating Canadian food with poutine which is horrendous. It’s good stuff, I get it, but we can’t. So I really say it’s an ingredient-based cuisine which is full-on regional. We’re surrounded by the most amazing food, no wonder the Japanese and everybody else are trying to get all our fish. And that’s how we built our whole industry, from cod and from all that, so I think we’re focused on amazing ingredients.
What is one of the first things you crave to eat when you return to Montreal from abroad?
I’m a real big burger guy and something that’s truly Montreal is Dic Ann’s. It’s a weird burger that’s really flat with kind of a gravy sauce and that’s the one thing I crave. It’s awesome. It’s like traditional Montreal '50s style diner and they just opened a food truck. It’s a chain, but it’s a local Montreal chain and it’s amazing. They're flat burgers and they give you a popsicle stick because they're so flat you have to lift it off the plate. It’s amazing.
What's your favourite poison?
I don’t drink at all. I’m an alcoholic, like every other chef I know. I opened the restaurant (Garde Manger) seven years ago and decided that I’m the boss, I’m in charge. I used to work for other people that had the lock and key on the booze, and now I was the guy who was in control of it. There was a big history of it in my family and I’m the kind of like the first one that decided to stop and my life got so much better... Some people have cancer, some people are missing a leg, that’s my thing and I really embrace it, especially in this kind of industry, it’s rampant, drug use and alcohol. People have this thing where they see the chef as this guy sniffing wine with a white hat, but the reality is really it’s a lot of partying and a lot of hard work, a lot of stress, and people like to unwind. I got caught up in that for so long, so it’s really just a personal choice, and it didn’t happen (just) like that. I worked at it, and I still work at it every day. I talk about it and I try to tell other chefs and cooks, people in the industry and people who aren’t even in the industry, there’s such a stigma around it.
Now six years (since I quit alcohol and drugs), my life is completely different. It’s a lot of work. The thing is it gets easier and easier. And people are always like 'What about one glass of wine?' It’s like 'Yeah, a case?' Maybe. I’ve never really enjoyed a glass of wine. I would always think of the next glass or like the line that I’m going to do, or the drugs ... so for me it’s just been amazing.
So I guess there's no more boozy eating binges after a night out?
That’s the one thing I miss about not drinking is the late-night poutine freak-outs because now I still have late-night food, I’m just not unconscious. Nobody in their right minds will eat a whole poutine unless they’re wasted, so those are the binges that I miss because I’m too conscious of like 'I’m not going to eat this whole thing.' I miss that. Where you don’t give a shit... For me that’s my big thing, from one addiction, when I stopped drinking, then I started needing sugar, because there’s so much alcohol, I needed sugar. It became like anything...so I have to watch out.
If you could prepare only one last meal, what would it be?
I think it would probably have to be something like Alaskan king crab, something that’s just out of this world. I’ve only had the chance to eat a whole crab once and I’ve been to Alaska... It would be a whole Alaskan king crab, like a 10-pound one.
What would be in your emergency "survival pantry"?
Probably either salt, or hot sauce, those are the two things that I can’t live without, salt especially, I’ve tried to tone it down but...now as a chef and cook, I try to use as much salt naturally as I can but there’s something about...crunching on sea salt, I love it. It’s one of my favourite things. So I think salt would probably be mine, but you need a little spice.
What is the wildest thing you’ve done in a kitchen, culinary or otherwise?
I would just say that things happen in walk-in fridges...
What is the best restaurant in Montreal that no one’s ever heard of?
Bouillon Bilk. Nobody knows about this place and it’s dope, it’s amazing... I know the guys who cook there, we go to yoga class together ... and they’re just a mini local restaurant that just does really well, that’s super cute, and nobody knows about.
What would you be doing if you couldn’t be a chef?
I would love to play hockey in the NHL, that’s my ultimate dream but being a pro surfer is something that I would love, too.
What is your favourite cheap food thrill?
Things that I have to watch out for just because I could eat like non-stop? Probably chocolate chip cookies, homemade, warm out of the oven. Saturdays are my cheat day and without fail, every Saturday night, tons of sea salt though, really important. My favourite combo? I love spicy, I love crispy, I love crunchy, I love salty but salty and sweet together for me is like heaven.
What is the most memorable food city in the world?
I would say Singapore. Black-pepper crab, chicken rice, like the most simple, really, chicken and rice, but I don’t understand how good it is. Visually it looks like the worst dish you’ll ever eat and the flavours, the perfume, is just phenomenal. It’s awesome.
What's the most unusual and delicious food that you would suggest people try?
Grasshoppers. Crispy and spicy, salty. Basically (in Mexico) we started with grasshoppers, a little bit of water and then just let them steam in the water and then the water evaporates and when all the water’s gone, oil, so they start to crisp up, then lime, salt and chili. It’s really unusual but phenomenal. It almost tastes like shrimp.
What are some of your favourite tattoos? I have bacon and arugula, the two loves of my life...and I just got a baby seal (illustrated as a Russian matryoshka doll) because I love Newfoundland and I just thought it was funny. The Russian doll was for my girlfriend. She’s not excited about tattoos at all, she hates it but she’s gotta live with it.
'Grilled' is a new regular chef interview that runs every other week. Who would you like to hear from next? Let us know at email@example.com.
Poutine — French fries generously slathered in gravy and cheese curds — is a classic Canadian treat that is said to have originated in Quebec in the 1950s. Since then, it has been adapted in many weird and wonderful ways from <a href="http://crownsalts.com/gardemanger/" target="_blank">gourmet versions with lobster</a> and <a href="http://www.restaurantaupieddecochon.ca/menu.html" target="_blank">foie gras</a> to —believe it or not — a doughnut version. It's also inspired <a href="http://smokespoutinerie.com/" target="_blank">a crop of trendy "poutineries"</a> and a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/14/doughnut-poutine-psycho-donuts_n_2875921.html" target="_blank">"poutition"</a> to make it Canada's official national dish.
There are some snacks that define a nation, but not many that taste good to only those who live there. What do we love? The fact they leave our fingers dyed red after we've had a whole bag. Ketchup has never tasted so salty, non-tomatoey and outright good. Our U.S. friends may go nutty over Doritos, but we love our ketchup chips. Did you know that <a href="http://www.thestar.com/business/2013/02/28/heres_why_you_cant_buy_chicken_and_waffle_chips_in_canada.html" target="_hplink"> Lay's dill pickle and Munchies snack mix are also exclusively Canadian?</a>
What could be more Canadian than syrup that comes from the maple tree, whose iconic leaf has come to symbolize Canada and its national pride? Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world, accounting for about 75 to 80 percent of the supply. Maple syrup — <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1372549/Maple-syrup-joins-ranks-broccoli-blueberries-new-stop-shop-superfood.html" target="_blank">recently elevated to "superfood" status</a> — is a classic sweet topping on pancakes and waffles. Still, that hasn't stopped some people from thinking of surprising savoury pairings such as <a href="http://www.toromagazine.com/lifestyle/food/toro-tv/c3df4a2e-74ba-c154-9172-99d497567a76/Caplanskys-Maple-Bacon-Donuts/" target="_blank">maple-bacon doughnuts</a>.
It's no secret that Canadians are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/15/tim-hortons-new-bacon-taste-test_n_2884834.html" target="_blank">obsessed with bacon</a>. The delicious cured pork product can be made oh so many ways, including ever popular strip bacon and peameal bacon, often referred to as "Canadian bacon" abroad. In fact, Canadians are so passionate about their favourite food that <a href="http://bacontoday.com/the-people-of-canada-choose-bacon-over-sex/" target="_blank">many would probably choose it over sex.</a>
A butter tart is a classic Canadian dessert made with butter, sugar, syrup and eggs — filled in a buttery (yes, more grease) pastry shell, and often includes either raisins or nuts. They can be runny or firm — so it's hard to mess them up when you're baking. <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/food/baking_and_desserts/best_butter_tarts.php" target="_blank">Also, they never seem to go out of style.</a>
BeaverTails, or <em>Queues de Castor</em> in French, is a famous trademarked treat made by a <a href="http://www.beavertailsinc.com/" target="_blank">Canadian-based chain of pastry stands</a>. The fried-dough treats are shaped to resemble real beaver tails and are often topped with chocolate, candy, and fruit. These Canadian delicacies go hand in hand with skiing, and even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/17/beavertail-at-inauguration_n_2495957.html" target="_blank">gained White House recognition during U.S. President Barack Obama's 2009 trip to Ottawa.</a>
These legendary Canadian no-bake treats originated in (surprise!) <a href="http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html" target="_blank">Nanaimo, B.C.,</a> and are typically made with graham-cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts, vanilla custard and chocolate. Need we say more? Common variations include peanut butter and mint chocolate.
No one likes to think of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as dinner, but game meat is abundant in Canada and can be found in butchers, restaurants and homes across the country. Among other popular Canadian game is boar, bison, venison, caribou and rabbit.
B.C. Pacific salmon — commercially fished or farmed — includes many different species such as Chinook, Chum, Coho, Sockeye, Cutthroat, Steelhead and Pink. They can vary in colour and taste from Atlantic salmon, and are found in fishmongers and restaurants across Canada.
Believe it or not, Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of <a href="http://www.marquecanadabrand.agr.gc.ca/fact-fiche/5318-eng.htm" target="_blank">wild blueberries</a>, also known as “lowbush blueberries,” mostly grown in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.
Blueberry Blossom Honey
Bees also love our blueberry shrubs! Pollinating blueberry shrubs with honey bees <a href="http://www.dutchmansgold.com/blueberryblossomhoney.htm" target="_blank">more than doubles the potential yield of this very Canadian berry</a>, according to Dutchman's Gold, which makes its honey from acres of blueberries growing in Ontario and New Brunswick. Although this honey is not actually blueberry flavoured, it does have a subtle aftertaste of the fruit.
Canadians can enjoy fresh oysters 12 months of the year. <a href="http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/sheet_feuillet/oyster-huitre-eng.htm" target="_blank">These famous little aphrodisiacs</a> are plentiful on Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia to British Columbia.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" may be an old English saying, but this nutritionally perfect food is quintessentially Canadian. Some of the most popular domestic varieties are McIntosh, Cortland, Gala, Fuji and Golden Delicious. According to Agriculture Canada, <a href="http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1334147419910" target="_blank">apples were first brought over to the country by European settlers in the 17th century.</a>
P.E.I. potatoes (such as Russet, White, Red and Yellow) are famous across Canada and around the world. Prince Edward Islanders have been growing potatoes <a href="http://www.peipotato.org/why-pei-potatoes" target="_blank">since the late 1700s!</a> Apparently they're superior because of the land's ideal growing conditions, including red, sandy soil that is rich in iron.
Nova Scotia Lobster
The Atlantic province of <a href="http://www.novascotia.com/en/home/discovernovascotia/foodandwine/lobster/default.aspx" target="_blank">Nova Scotia is world-renowned</a> for its tasty crustaceans. They have some of the most fertile lobster fishing grounds on the planet.
The popularity of Alberta beef might have been a little tainted by the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/02/xl-foods-lawsuit_n_1934310.html" target="_blank">unfortunate E-coli outbreak at XL Foods in 2012,</a> but the province's AAA beef is considered among the best. Alberta is the cattle capital of Canada and <a href="http://www.raisedright.ca/CampaignStory.aspx" target="_blank">according to the province's farmers,</a> it has the fourth largest cattle herd in North America, behind Texas, Kansas and Nebraska.
You can call them the New York bagels of Canada, but Montreal bagels are often smaller and sweeter in taste. These O-shaped baked breads are paired deliciously with lox and cream cheese. Calorie-wise, bagels are equivalent to about three or four slices of bread, but you still might want to eat more than just one.
Arctic char is a freshwater fish species raised across Canada, in the <a href="http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/finfish-poissons/char-omble-eng.htm" target="_blank">Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Yukon Territory</a>, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Arctic char is a part of the salmon family, and looks similar to a salmon but is more genetically linked to trout.
Bannock takes its name from a traditional Scottish flat bread, adopted by North American Natives, including Canada's Innuit. It's recently received some gourmet treatment in the culinary world, <a href="http://www.oliverbonacini.com/OliverBonacini/media/pdfs/BannockMenu.pdf" target="_blank">as a focaccia-like substitute for sandwiches.</a>
Yes, Kraft Dinner is also Canadian. This dorm room staple and processed-cheese masterpiece has been <a href="http://walrusmagazine.com/printerFriendly.php?ref=2012.09-food-manufacturing-taste" target="_hplink">dubbed a Canadian classic.</a> And really, if you haven't tried a bowl of the instant comfort food yet, we recommend skipping the milk and going straight for the butter.
No, it's not a "Saved by the Bell" reference. Screech is a type of rum made in Jamaica, and bottled and aged in Newfoundland. It has a storied history <a href="http://www.screechrum.com/story" target="_blank">dating back to early trade between Newfoundland and the West Indian island</a> (when salt fish was shipped to Jamaica in exchange for rum.) We hear it tastes like any other rum, but it has an awesome name, doesn't it?
Tourtière is a traditional spiced and savoury meat pie from Quebec, made with diced or ground pork, veal, or beef. This French Canadian delicacy is typically made around Christmas time, but eclectic foodies enjoy it all year round.
Very similar to blueberries (but a fascinating alternative), Saskatoon berries are <a href="http://www.canadasfood.com/history_products/saskatoon_berries.php" target="_blank">native to the Canadian Prairies, British Columbia and Northern Canada</a>. They're also rich in antioxidants and considered one of the world's "superfruits."
Tim Hortons "Double-Double"
A "Double-Double" has become somewhat of a popular slang term for Canadians. It refers to a coffee with two teaspoons of sugar and two teaspoons of cream. How popular is it? In 2011, Tim Hortons even <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/30/tim-hortons-double-double_n_941875.html" target="_hplink">released a "Double-Double" flavoured ice cream.</a>
Fiddleheads are curly, edible shoots of fern, often consumed in many provinces seasonally across the country. And like your mother always told you, eat your greens: <a href="http://www.lesliebeck.com/ingredients/fiddleheads" target="_hplink">Fiddleheads are high in potassium and vitamin C. </a>
Swiss Chalet Sauce
Canadian chain restaurant Swiss Chalet's rotisserie chicken and grilled ribs get a fair amount of attention, but there's always been something special about that secret sauce that people love to pour all over their food. What's in this sauce, you wonder? People have debated this point for a while and we're not exactly sure either. But we can <a href="http://www.swisschalet.com/allergy.php" target="_hplink">assure you there are no milk, egg or fish products in it,</a> (cue the vegetarian sigh of relief). But if you'e still not convinced, try <a href="http://ownyourfood.blogspot.ca/2011/09/swiss-chalet-style-dipping-sauce.html" target="_hplink">making your own knock-off version.</a>
Montreal Smoked Meat
Besides bagels, Montreal is also known for its kosher-style smoked meat. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/05/schwartzs-sold-rene-angelil_n_1255654.html" target="_hplink">Schwartz's in particular</a> has been using the same recipe of marinated spices and herbs in their smoked beef brisket for over 80 years. If you've never been, go early — the deli shop is usually packed with long line-ups.
This classic East Coast late night food "is to Halifax what the <em>banh mi</em> is to Saigon, the<em> jambon-beurre</em> to Paris," says the Globe and Mail. Evolved from the Turkish doner kebab, it's typically made of spiced ground beef that has been shaped and pressed into a large loaf and then roasted on a spit, like shawarma and gyros. It's then usually served on flatbread with fresh tomatoes, raw onion and a sweet, garlicky sauce.
If you live in Newfoundland, you probably already know why cod tongue is a local treasure. Cod tongue is usually made by <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/cod-got-your-tongue/article1077308/" target="_hplink">sautéing cod tongue with milk and flour,</a> according to The Globe And Mail.
Kind of like jerky, <a href="http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/pemmican" target="_hplink">pemmican is a type of dried meat often made from bison or moose.</a> The meat is usually pounded into a powder and mixed with melted fat, berries and other edible bits.
Red Rose Tea
Canadians drink more than nine billion cups of tea every year, according to the <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Empire-Tea-Alan-Macfarlane/dp/1585674931" target="_hplink">The Empire Of Tea</a></em>. If you've ever visited a Canadian hotel or even spent enough time at your grandparents' house you've probably <a href="http://www.redrosetea.ca/red_rose_tea/product_information.aspx" target="_hplink">seen Red Rose tea bags.</a> How Canadian is Red Rose? They even have a Canadian-blended version.
As controversial as it is, Canadian foie gras, particularly from Quebec, is a hot commodity. Foie gras, French for fat liver, is made of liver of a duck that has been through a process called gavage (force-feeding.) But <a href="http://www.realfoodtraveler.com/2011/11/jacques-legros-quebec%E2%80%99s-father-goose/" target="_blank">some foie gras is made more ethically</a>.
Oka cheese, a Quebec classic (named after the <a href="http://www.french-at-a-touch.com/Gourmet/Cheese/oka_canadian.htm" target="_hplink">small village of Oka</a>), is a semi-soft pressed cheese made with cow's milk. Oka's rind is often dark orange and has both a<a href="http://www.french-at-a-touch.com/Gourmet/Cheese/oka_canadian.htm" target="_hplink"> nutty and fruity flavour.</a>
Sugar pie or <em>tarte au sucre,</em> is a common dish found in Quebec. These desserts are made with a flour pie crust and are often filled with butter, flour, cream and maple syrup. They can also be topped with fresh fruits and English cream. Check out <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/food/sugar_pie.php" target="_hplink">this recipe from Canadian Living</a> to make your own.
B.C. Spot Prawns
Wild B.C. spot prawns are actually the largest of <a href="http://www.wildbcspotprawns.com/about" target="_hplink">seven species of shrimp found on the West Coast.</a> These prawns are known for their sweet flavour and firm texture. Another fun fact: these prawns are often a reddish-brown colour but turn bright pink when cooked.
When it comes to food, Canadians concede there's far more selection in the U.S. but we're fiercely proud of the candy bars that can only be found here. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_Crisp" target="_hplink">Coffee Crisp</a> is a great example. Consisting of a crunchy wafer, milk chocolate coating and slightest hint of coffee flavouring, the chocolate bar is true to its marketing slogan of making 'a nice light snack' and is adored by all moms and seniors. Rumour has it they've been spotted in a few U.S. border town convenience stores. We want proof!
It's the ideal summer drink and hair of the dog when you're hungover. The Caesar, Canada's favourite breakfast, lunch and evening cocktail is essentially a Bloody Mary with <a href="http://www.mottsclamato.ca/lang" target="_blank">Clamato</a> instead of tomato juice. Think of Clamato as a spicy tomato-clam juice. It's typically served with celery and lime in a celery salt-rimmed glass, and it's pretty amazing. (Pleaes don't call it a Bloody Caesar, because that's just wrong.)
Sushi pizza, a mini pizza-like creation of a fried rice cake topped with raw fish and spicy mayo, is commonly <a href="http://travel.aol.com/travel-guide/canada/canada/montreal/atami-restaurant-detail-14483/" target="_hplink">found in Japanese restaurants in major Canadian cities</a>. Who actually started this trend? We'd love to know. We've heard <a href="http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/537790" target="_hplink">restaurant owners and forums say Toronto</a> — but sushi pizza has also been popping up in California.
This popular Novia Scotia dessert is made from blueberries and flour dumplings — it's basically like a blueberry pie without the crust. Check out this <a href="http://www.selectnovascotia.ca/?cid=7&id=7" target="_hplink">recipe to make your own.</a>
This two-in-one chocolate and surprise (talk about a win-win situation) wasn't really "invented" in Canada, but you won't find Kinder Surprise eggs in countries like the United States. In fact, even if you're thinking about smuggling some south of the border, you shouldn't. Last year, two <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/07/18/kinder-eggs-illegal-candy-canada-border.html" target="_hplink">men spent two hours in a detention centre after trying to bring these chocolate eggs illegally</a> over the U.S. border. These <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/us-ban-of-kinder-eggs-cracked-at-last-8539723.html" target="_hplink">treats have been banned in the States</a> because of the potential choking hazard of the small toys.
Girl Guide Mint Cookies
Chocolate-covered mint cookies have come a long way for the Girl Guides of Canada. In 1995, this popular treat was first introduced to all provinces across the country and in <a href="http://www.girlguides.ca/GGC/Cookies/Cookie_History/GGC/Cookies/Cookie_History.aspx" target="_hplink">2003, they were produced in a nut- and peanut-free bakery.</a> And sure, you can find mint cookies anywhere, but these cookies are certainly a Canadian tradition.
Rappie pie is a traditional Acadian dish made from shredded potatoes, and sometimes, with meat and onions. Popular in Nova Scotia, this <a href="http://www.deonsrappiepie.com/" target="_hplink">dish dates back to the 1700s.</a>
These cherries, also known as wild black cherries, are found in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland. They are related to plums, peaches and apricots, and are commonly used in <a href="http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/fruit/bla01s00.html" target="_hplink">making juices, jams, jellies and wine, according to the Government of Manitoba.</a>
Who knew that Saskatchewan is the world's largest exporter of green lentils? This nutritious little legume grows in pods and is one of the oldest cultivated crops on earth. They are often<a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/healthy-eating/healthy-eating-all-about-lentils/index.html" target="_blank"> found in French, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine</a> and are perfect for wintry soups and stews.
Sourdough In The Yukon
Sourdough bread is particularly popular in the Yukon. But up north, sourdough is made both into <a href="http://breakfast.food.com/recipe/yukon-sourdough-flapjacks-pancakes-34749" target="_hplink">flapjacks and bread.</a> In fact, the territory even celebrates a <a href="http://www.yukonrendezvous.com/about-us/history#2000" target="_hplink">Sourdough Rendezvous festival</a> every year with a bread baking contest and winter activities.
Garlic, which belongs to the onion family, is a cool-season crop and grown across Canada, but the purple varieties — found in Ontario and British Columbia — are more rare.
Mussels cultured in the cool water surrounding Prince Edward Island are famous across North America. Cultured mussels are grown in mesh stockings that are suspended from ropes in the water, never touching the ocean floor. According to P.E.I. Tourism, <a href="http://www.tourismpei.com/pei-mussels" target="_blank">this creates conditions ideal for growth</a>, while giving these cultured mussels a sweet taste and tender, plumper consistency free of ocean grit.
There are few brands in Canada as reliable as President's Choice. Mr. Christie thinks he makes good cookies but nothing tops<a href="http://reviews.presidentschoice.ca/6584/F14934/reviews.htm" target="_hplink"> the Decadent</a>, the brand's answer to Chips Ahoy. Kraft Dinner, in its familiar blue box, pales in comparison to <a href="http://www.presidentschoice.ca/LCLOnline/products.jsp?type=details&sortOrder=byRate&productId=4745" target="_hplink">PC's White Cheddar Mac & Cheese</a>. It also doesn't hurt that nerdily-handsome Galen Weston (hearthrob of Canadian suburban housewives everywhere) is the pitchman for this iconic line of Canadian products. Why yes, Mr. Weston, I'd like some more <a href="http://reviews.presidentschoice.ca/6584/Fprod1410011/reviews.htm" target="_hplink">Memories of Morocco Sweet And Spicy Sauce</a>...
Canada is the largest exporter and the second largest producer of mustard seed in the world, accounting for 75-80 per cent of all mustard exports worldwide, according to the <a href="http://www.specialcrops.mb.ca/pdf/CSCA-Special-Crops-Brochure.pdf" target="_blank">Canadian Special Crops Association</a>. Who knew? Apparently, Canada's climate provides ideal growing conditions for the spicy crop.
It completes your morning bowl of cereal, can quench thirst and is the perfect companion to chocolate chip cookies. Milk, dear readers, is an all around amazing drink. And grabbing a glass of the white stuff in Canada is unlike anything you'll be able to experience in many other countries. That's because there are <a href="http://www.dairygoodness.ca/good-health/dairy-facts-fallacies/hormones-for-cows-not-in-canada" target="_hplink"> no unnatural hormones in our dairy products</a> (so concerns about negative side effects simply doesn't exist), and we <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/ontario/article/760654--so-we-drink-milk-from-bags-does-that-make-us-weird" target="_hplink">serve the beverage in a plastic bag</a>, which, frankly, is far more convenient and environmentally friendly than cardboard containers (the baggies can be reused as makeshift lunch bags!). (Photos Shutterstock)
ALSO: 9 Times Canada Was Smarter Than The U.S.
9 time Canada was smarter than the U.S. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/15/canada-smarter-than-us_n_2789794.html" target="_blank">Read the story here.</a>