When we live in different countries and cultures for an extended amount of time, we tend to miss certain things about home. I know there are a lot of foods I miss from Northern Ireland, and I am sure we can all relate to this. Some mornings I wake up and crave a big Ulster Fry, but I have to accept that that ain’t ever going to happen. Don’t waste your time trying to look for the equivalent wherever you are studying, you will just be left even more disappointed (trust me, there is no Cadbury’s chocolate equivalent in North America). Instead I have another suggestion and it is much more exciting! I suggest we foodies take that space in our hearts, which used to me filled with good meat, good reasonably-priced bread and decent chocolate and pastries, and fill it with new cultural, foodie experiences.
In this blog I will be focusing on Montréal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some inspiration for wherever you’ll be studying abroad.
SO HERE WE GO…
1.POUTINE – for those of you who have not yet discovered this beauty, poutine is a dish which originated in Québec and it is made up of fries, gravy, cheese curds and any other toppings you want e.g. chicken, bacon, peas, onions, peppers, etc, etc. The possibilities are endless! Try as many different poutines as you can (before it becomes a risk to your health). My personal favourites are La Banquise, a 24hr poutine restaurant, but beware there is always a queue out the door but worth it. Frites Alors and La Belle Province, two chain restaurants in Montréal, also serve superb poutines. I know it sounds disgusting but you can’t come to Québec and not try it.
The city hosts a poutine festival every year in September/October and it is not to be missed.
There is also a poutine week where many eateries participate and offer special poutines at special prices for one week only!!! This is includes a “fish and chip shop” poutine.
Why not try a pretty crazy poutine? On my recent trip to Banff National Park, I treated myself to an Elk poutine.
I also had a breakfast poutine once.. don’t judge. It was great.
Okay, on to the next one because it is getting embarrassing that I know so much about poutine…
2. The famous smoked meat sandwich – a Montréal speciality. Schwartz Deli are well known for their smoked meat and everyone who visits Montréal queues outside Schwartz to get a taste of their juicy smoked meat. Their smoked meat is good, but it has changed ownership since it first got famous and so the meat isn’t as tasty as it once was. Instead, I suggest trying a smoked meat sandwich from La Belle Provence. Why not try a smoked meat poutine?
3. Montréal bagels – fabulous, fresh, so tasty, 10/10. Great for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. With the mix of North American and French culture, comes incredible bagels. I cannot recommend them enough. Why not try a crazy rainbow bagel (available at Dizz’s Bagel & Deli) or a maple and bacon bagel (available in local supermarkets) in Montréal.
4. Tim Hortons – boy, am I going to miss dates with Tim. Tim Hortons is either one of things you love or hate. I love it. As a coffee lover, I am not a fan of their coffee, however, their French Vanilla is where it is at on a cold winters day when you need protecting from the snow. On a warm summers day, you need an iced cappuccino to cool you down. And you might as well get a donut while you’re at it. They are so cheap, it would be rude not too. Their soup and sandwiches are also much tastier than they look. Many people don’t like it because so many homeless people hang around, but why not take a more positive outlook, buy them a warm drink and snack for less than £2 and have a chat, after all they are people too.
5. Maple Syrup – Well, if you find yourself in the World’s maple syrup capital you can’t really avoid having a taste of this deliciousness. Québec produces over 75% of the worlds maple syrup and it often comes in extremely adorable cans. Maple syrup is now a very stable part of my diet and I use it in almost every dish I cook in the kitchen. Eggs with maple syrup. Yoghurt with maple syrup. Soup with maple syrup. Maple and chilli pork. Maple tea. Maple latte. Maple bacon. Maple beer. MAPLE EVERYTHING. Once you have tried it, you can’t go back.
If you find yourself in Québec during Spring, you need to get to a Sugar Shack or a Cabane à sucre. This is a Québécois tradition which happens each spring. Groups of friends or families go out into the countryside to a little hut and basically eat as much as they can and everything is served with maple syrup. I had the opportunity to experience this for myself, on a trip with my halls of residence, and it was a delight. Food, friends and maple syrup; what more could you want!?
So there are plenty of other foods to keep our minds of Mammy’s home cooking and those cooked British breakfasts for a while. Get out there and see what you can find!
If you have any further questions about what poutine is or anything study abroad related please get in touch! I am very happy to help!
I’m off for a poutine.