The province of Quebec in Canada is a great destination for foodies, and so is Montreal, which is the largest city within the region. Due to the cultural diversity of the people in Montreal, you will find a lot of good dishes from different cuisines in the city. However, this post is not about that. If you would like to learn more about some traditional cuisines that you can easily order in Montreal.
Our top 10 foods in Montreal, in this post, include dishes that have characterized the Quebec province and its people. These are the dishes that locals eat at home or at a restaurant. If you are looking for an authentic experience in Quebec, these are the foods you should not miss on.
This is one of the top 10 foods that is being identified with Montreal. Poutine is a mix of multi-calorie ingredients: French fries, gravy (meat sauce), and cheese curds – which contains a mixture of whipped milk and whey. Putin originated in Quebec Province and became popular in pubs, diners, and hockey fields in the 1950s.
Until the early 2000s, Putin was considered unsophisticated junk food and did not go beyond the boundaries of Quebec. But in the last two decades, it has begun to spread across Canada and all types of restaurants – including luxury restaurants that serve gourmet versions. There are whole chains dedicated to poutine in Montreal like Smoke’s Poutinerie, and you can even find vegan versions of it.
This is also one of the top 10 foods in Montreal. When you think of a sugar shack, maple syrup is most certainly the first product that comes to mind. Maple syrup is made from maple tree resin. Maple trees store starch in their trunk and roots, which later turn into sugar inside their resin. To make this syrup, a hole is drilled in the tree. The resin is then collected and heated to remove the moisture, leaving only the concentrated liquid, that is, the syrup.
In 2016, Canada is reported to export 45,000 tons of maple products worth a total of $ 360 million, many of which were produced in Montreal. The report shows that 71 percent of the global maple production is produced in Quebec. Therefore, Montreal is the largest maple maker in the world.
History has made it known that the first people to start producing maple syrup in Montreal were the natives of North America, and later the European settlers who adopted the custom and invented new methods of producing the syrup. Now, you can find quality maple syrup in every neighbourhood supermarket or restaurant in Montreal. Maple application is not limited to syrup – it is being used in several other products listed below.
Maple butter is not, strictly speaking, butter. It contains no dairy products and is only maple syrup. Its creamy texture earned it this name. It is used as a spread on toasts, on pancakes, to garnish desserts, or to accompany fruits.
A great classic of the sugar shack, maple taffy is obtained by boiling maple syrup. Taffy in the snow is maple sap boiled on a stick that you dip in snow or ice. The only way to experience this is in a sugar shack, where they collect the sap in the spring. A visit to the sugar shack would not be complete without this moment when you pour the hot taffy on a bed of snow to cool it, before wrapping it around a wooden stick to enjoy it! In cooking, it is also found in the preparation of certain desserts such as meringues or meat dishes.
The maple flakes are relatively new and are the result of the dehydration process of maple syrup. They are perfect sprinkled on desserts, yogurts, oatmeal, cereals, or fruit and quickly become addictive with their beautiful crispy texture.
Maple water is simply maple sap, stabilized and sterilized, with no added agents or ingredients. With its slightly sweet taste and its hydrating and regenerating properties, it is a good replacement for juice! It can also be used in cooking to poach fish or seafood, marinate meats, or even incorporate into sauces.
The Maple Cones
Another classic from the sugar era, maple cones. Sometimes made with taffy and maple butter, sometimes just one or the other, the dose of sugar is quickly reached with this treat (but it’s so good!).
These are small jellied balls whose centre is filled with maple syrup. It’s the little extra in dishes or cocktails, perfect for the holidays or special occasions. Maple pearls are as pretty as they are delicious when they burst in the mouth! They can be put on slices of foie gras, in a glass of bubbles, on canapés of smoked salmon, to accompany a brie or to decorate desserts.
Produced by heating maple syrup at a very high temperature, these maple candies are a real throwback to childhood time for many adults in Quebec. For every child, it is impossible not to bring back some from each visit to the sugar shack.
Maple Flavored Products
Alcohols and spirits have given way to maple and we now find maple whiskeys, flavored vodka, and sparkling maple wine. On the condiment side, maple is also very present, whether in dressings or mustards, not to mention maple ice cream or cookies. It seems that the only limit to using maple in food is our imagination. And that’s good because it’s a delight!
The BeaverTail is a pastry made from fried dough in the shape of a beaver’s tail, i.e. elliptical and flat, topped with sweet toppings (like whipped cream, banana pieces, or chocolate spread) or savoury (like poutine or sausages). It is indeed one of the top 10 foods in Montreal.
Beavertails can be found on the BeaverTails chain, which was founded in the late 1970s. The first branch was at Byward Market in the capital city of Ottawa, and today the chain has 150 branches in Canada and around the world (USA, Japan, UAE, France, and Mexico).
The bannock also called fried bread, is a flatbread pastry traditionally made from flour, water, salt, sugar, and lard. It usually undergoes regular frying or deep frying and is served with various toppings: honey, jam, powdered sugar, or meat.
The history of bannock began with the native Canadians, who then used to bake it in a stone oven or roast it over the fire. Its consumption is influenced by the European settlers in Canada. When the indigenous Canadians were transferred to reserves, they were banned from activities such as hunting and fishing and were instead were forced to subsist on supplies provided to them by the government. They were forced to start making banks from the basic (and less healthy) ingredients that they were provided with. As a result, the bannock turned from food consumed during an activity like hunting or roaming, into food of survival importance.
In light of this history, Native Americans today have a complex relationship with Banuk. While some refer to it as traditional and comforting food, others see it as a reminder of colonialism and its devastating consequences.
Technically, Caesar is not a dish but a drink – one of the most popular cocktails in Montreal. But in practice, many places serve it with toppings that make it a complete meal. The Caesar contains vodka, clamato (tomato juice and oysters), hot pepper sauce (known as hot sauce), and Worcestershire sauce. It is served in a large glass that its tip is coated in salt and is usually garnished with lime and a stalk of celery. Many people go beyond the usual toppings and add to the Caesar skewers of mini burgers, shrimp, bacon, pickles, Belgian waffles, Mac & Cheese, Spring Rolls, and more.
Today the cocktail is consumed mostly in Montreal and Canada as a whole, but it was probably invented in the United States. There are quite a few people who claim to have invented it or an earlier version of it, among them are the people of the American sauce and juice company Mott, who invented the clamato.
The one who eventually invented the Canadian version in 1969 and called it “Caesar” was Walter Cell, the owner of an inn in Calgary, Alberta. He wanted to find a drink to launch the new Italian restaurant with at the inn, and he claimed to have been inspired by the Italian dish “Spaghetti Ella Vongola” (spaghetti with oysters). It is now estimated that 350 million Caesar beverages are consumed in Canada each year.
Here’s a bit of Jewish pride and one of the dishes most identified with Canada, and Montreal in particular, is the Montreal bagel. Those who brought the bagel to the city were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Unlike the New York bagel, which also has Jewish origins, the Montreal bagel is smaller, thinner, denser, sweeter, and with a larger hole. It is being baked in a stone oven, contains lettuce and egg, and before baking is dipped in honey-sweetened water. The most common coatings for Montreal bagels are poppy or sesame.
The first to bake bagels in Montreal was probably a man named Haim Seligman, who at first used to roam the streets and sell his bagels out of a cart, then out of a carriage, and later out of a taxi. At the same time, another Jew, Jack Shelfman, founded a bagel bakery called Fairmount Bagel in 1919. In 1957, Seligman and another man, Meir Lebkovich, founded the bakery St. Viateur Bagel Shop. Both bakeries exist to this day and are considered the most popular in the city.
Nanaimo is a three-layer chocolate snack: having a bottom layer of crumbs (made from waffles, nuts, and coconut), a middle layer of custard, and a top layer of chocolate ganache. There are many variations on the flavors of the cream (coconut, mint, peanut butter, and more). The snack is named after the city of Nanaimo in the province of British Columbia, and there is evidence that it was invented there, in the 1930s (some evidence claimed that it was invented as early as the late 19th century). But the first recipes for the snack appeared in newspapers and cookbooks only in the 1950s. On the Nanaimo City website, you will find a recipe for the Nanaimo snack.
In 1986 the Nanaimo starred as a classic Canadian snack at the Expo86 show and subsequently became popular all over Canada. In 2016, it was presented to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, when he hosted former US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House, as part of a dinner that included typical American and Canadian dishes.
Timbit’s are “holes” of donuts sold in the famous Canadian coffee chain, Tim Hortons. The Timbits are small, spherical donuts, and like donuts, they are baked in deep oil and come with different sweet coatings. Tim Hortons first started selling the Timbits in 1976 and more than forty years later, they are still very popular. Common types of Timbits are “birthday cake”, honey, sour cream, apples, chocolate icing, and icing sugar. Have you had the opportunity to come to Montreal? You can visit the nearest Timmy branch and buy a soggy coffee and a Timbits basket.
The tortilla is a round meat pie that comes from Quebec and usually contains minced meat and potatoes. In Quebec, it is considered a traditional Christmas and New Year’s Eve dish, but can be found in stores across Canada throughout the year. The tortilla is associated with families of Canadian-French descent that have been making it for many generations, since the 17th century, and it has also spread to areas in the northeastern United States, where it was taken by emigrants from Quebec in the 19th and 20th centuries. The filling used is usually fish such as salmon or it can be stuffed with beef, pork, or game meat.
The most popular French fries flavor in Montreal is ketchup. Ketchup fries are fries coated in a red powder made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, and spices, which tend to stay on the fingers while eating. It will turn your fingers red – you were warned! Every self-respecting snack brand in Canada has ketchup chips. The origin of the chips is probably in an experiment by the Hostess company in the seventies. The company was thinking of marketing fruit-flavored French fries like grapes and oranges, but after it failed the tasting tests, they decided to go for a safer bet – tomato flavor, which caught on strongly.
There have also been attempts in the United States to market ketchup chips, but they have been less successful. Today ketchup chips can be found in every hole in Canada, while in the United States it is quite rare. In 2018, the Canadian magazine Chatelaine published a ranking of the ten most successful brands of ketchup chips.
We hope that this article has helped you to explore some top amazing foods that Montrealers love. And now that you’ve learned about the top 10 foods in Montreal, may we ask which one you’ll like to try? And which ones are not? If you don’t have the time to eat out, you can use food delivery services like eezly to order it online and have it delivered to you in a few minutes. Do you know any other food that could fit into our top 10 foods in Montreal? Kindly drop it in the comment section below.