To mark the commencement of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Diamond Jubilee on 11 July 2017, TheIsmaili Nutrition Centre is pleased to launch "Taste of Culture" - a celebration of our cultural diversity through the joy of food. Travel around the world with us, as we dish out food secrets from the locals themselves. From Dar-es-Salaam to Dallas, discover some of the most notable and mouth-watering local dishes that promise to make you a cultural connoisseur! Our next stop: ONTARIO, CANADA.

Embracing diversity and acknowledging it to be its greatest strength, Ontario, Canada is home to a large number of Ismailis from all over the world. With the Aga Khan Development Network operating there for more than 35 years, Ontario is also the home for the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, The Ismaili Centre (Toronto), The Aga Khan Museum, The Aga Khan Park, and the Global Centre for Pluralism. A hub for delicious and diverse local foods, Ontario offers endless variety of multicultural cuisines to whet your appetite and certainly supports the trend in culinary tourism. Whether you're looking for a barbecue treat, or trying to satisfy that sweet tooth, check out our list of quintessentially Ontario foods!

1. Poutine

First stop, Poutine, of course! The original Poutine is a Québécois dish made with hot French fries and melting cheese curds, but it's become very popular in Ontario too! French fries are topped with warm, brown gravy usually made from chicken, veal or turkey juices, and mixed with wheat flour or cornstarch and a hint of mild spices. It's a marvelous combination of savoury deliciousness! Today, the dish has many variations; smoked meat, chicken and green onions or tomatoes being just a few of the embellishments. Poutine is definitely an indulgence, and great as a stand-alone dish. This is the perfect grab-and-go food if you're out and about exploring the city - just keep walking to burn off some of those calories! Poutine is available at most local restaurants all over Ontario, but the one in Montreal is definitely worth stopping by especially! 

2. Ribs

Meatlover? Ontario is the place for you! Ribs are a celebrated food in Ontario, with many local Ribfest events happening all over during the summer. Tasty and juicy ribs are made from various meats ranging from beef, lamb, and other meats. The special recipe includes a blend of cayenne peppers, black peppers, paprika, mixed with ginger, garlic and vinegar for a delectable taste. Ribs are usually served with different types of barbecue sauces and a side of fries or corn on the cob. This is definitely a full-fledge meal, so take the time to enjoy the meaty juiciness in every single bite! Although available at most restaurants, the best ribs are the ones at local Ribfests. If you're travelling to Ontario, see if you can find a festival near you.

3. Corn on the Cob

Ontario is one of the main producers of corn for grain production in Canada. No wonder Corn on the Cob is a local favourite! Grab a grilled corn fresh from the barbecue, drizzled with lime juice and chilli powder, it's the perfect choice for a quick and simple snack. If you want to take it up a notch, try the Mexican Street Corn, covered with mayonnaise, Mexican cotija cheese, chili powder and paprika. You've never tasted Corn on the Cob like this before!

4. Maple Syrup

No stop in Canada is complete without some home-grown maple syrup! Made with the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees, Canadian maple syrup has a uniquely "Canadian" flavour. Sap is collected by tapping the maple tree and boiling it down to make syrup. Wherever you see maples, you can be sure you'll find some maple syrup: from the southern edge of the province all the way to the northwest! And here's another reason to try maple syrup - it has no additives, is completely natural and full of minerals and plant proteins. It's sweet earthy flavour makes it a perfect treat, drizzled over hot waffles, pancakes, French toast or oatmeal. Local maple syrup is available across most stores in Ontario, so make sure to grab some on your way out to keep a piece of Canada with you after your leave!

5. Wild Blueberries

Ontario has one of the widest varieties of blueberries across Canada. In fact, we love our blueberries so much, we have a Wild Blueberry Festival every year in summer. Here, you can try a variety of wild blueberries from across the country - and you wouldn't believe how many there are! Aside from being low in calories, naturally sweet and a decent source of Vitamin C and fibre, blueberries also contain antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect your body's cells from damage and help reduce the risk of diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. These yummy berries can go with almost anything, from cereal, smoothies to even complementing your morning waffles with a dash of maple syrup! There's nothing like just grabbing a handful and popping them in your mouth to let those juicy flavours take you right to the heart of rural blueberry farms.

6. Fried Dough Pastries

If you have a sweet tooth, then fried dough pastries are made just for you! These Canadian pastries are a standard across Ontario. Made with lines of fried dough, individually hand stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail, the fried dough is then topped with your choice of sweet condiments and confections, such as whipped cream, banana slices, crumbled cookies, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate hazelnut. Be warned that this dessert may lead to a sugar rush! It's best shared with a few people, but if you're brave enough to go at it alone, then enjoy with zero guilt as it is treat!

 

References:

  1. Corn: Canada's third most valuable crop, Statistics Canada
  2. Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association

 

Edits: Afshan Khoja & Shahzadi Devje RD CDE MSc