We have a saying in our home that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — you should always make it home for breakfast. (When I was in my teens it was to make it home for breakfast and for the 3 a.m. milking!)
Canadians do love to eat breakfast, especially in Quebec where families break bread in the morning 80 per cent of the time. I cheer when those buttery croissants dance across my son’s Montreal table.
In a survey of eating habits, Leger Marketing and Quebec celebrity chef, Ricardo, drilled down to the Canadian kitchen to discover who we are and what we eat. I found the results of the survey of more than 3,000 Canadians fascinating because we have often had long discussions among friends and colleagues about what our culture really is.
There seems to be no one food that describes our diversity in Canada and so we have to take a stroll across the country to find out what is happening in Canadian kitchens.
No surprise that in Alberta, the survey found the meal is created around meat. In addition to the backyard BBQ, the main way for meat prep in this province is the Crock-Pot and it is stuffed with a North American recipe or a Vietnamese dish. We are big spenders, too, and have the nation’s largest food bill.
If you like Caribbean food then you’ll find it on an Ontario dinner plate along with a pile of work. It is the go province in which people are too busy to eat dessert. Driven by the desire for getting the job done — both Albertans and folks in Ontario are the least likely to enjoy a glass of wine with a meal. That does not sound like much fun.
On the other side of the Rockies in beautiful B.C., there is time for wine and a late-evening dinner that is based on organic or natural ingredients. With lots of garlic and heavy on the Asian influence, B.C. folks are reflective of the national desire to eat healthy (94 per cent) and to stay on budget (90 per cent).
No worries about wine in Quebec, it is a staple. Like most Canadians (60 per cent), young folks in that province learn to cook from their mothers (who still rule Canadian kitchens) and Quebecers love to make meals from scratch with chocolate as a food group (I don’t have a problem with that) while wine pairings take place before, during, and after the meal. If the meal is not of French origin in Quebec, it will likely be Italian. Although 43 per cent of Canadians still make preserves, it is the people of Quebec who are the most diligent in capturing summer through canning.
This may surprise the Prairie moms in Saskatchewan and Manitoba as they are self-proclaimed traditionalists and, like 35 per cent of all Canadians, boast a backyard garden. The dinner table in these provinces is laden with comfort food along with ever-present corn and a variety of Mexican dishes. Lots of food is offered and the speed at which it disappears sets the Canadian record.
When it comes to grocery shopping, 83 per cent of Canadians make a list before they go to the store and 12 per cent set a budget. And no group is more cost conscious than our friends in Atlantic Canada. Folks from the Maritime provinces prefer a meal that can be prepared in 15 minutes and have a maximum cost of $5. How do you do that? Well, pizza is the all-time favourite and fast food is considered a comfort. Sound fishy? Not so, according to our precise pollsters, who found out that although most Canadians eat as a family five out of seven days in the week that is just simply not the case in Atlantic Canada.
Kids love to cook too but in most kitchens (46 per cent) are given the task of setting the table. Families of all backgrounds (59 per cent) like to have a meal they can prepare in less than 30 minutes and they often rely on chicken or pasta to make that happen. Half of Canadian kitchens needs to improvise on a recipe and that seems OK as there are always distractions anyway.
Most Canadians (82 per cent) are not bothered if there is media at the table and 45 per cent of them watch TV while eating, 14 per cent surf the net, 11 per cent are on social media and the rest talk on the phone or listen to the radio. OK, so it is kind of a detached dinner even if the kids are eating their broccoli.
There must be something that pulls us all together. It has to be food that brings us together despite our provincial differences. Across Canada the one dish that has the family scrambling to the table is lasagna.
And now you know.
And while you recover from this amazing fact, dig into something salty if you are from the West and sweet if you are from the East, or snack on the nation’s most beloved fruit — banana. And that is the short and sweet of who we are and what we eat.