When we take a look at the province of Quebec, located in Eastern Canada, we come across a very distinct culture that has its roots tied deeply into that of the first settlers. The Quebecois hold fiercely onto their heritage, language and French values and it shows in just how different their food is. Recognizable dishes in Quebecois cuisine are: fries and gravy (poutine), meat pie (Tourtiere), and pea soup. They represent the very identity of the Quebecois. However, just like the rest of Canada, Quebec is a province of immigrants and therefore its traditional food has been impacted over the centuries. With regards to Quebec food culture, the First Nations, English and Irish have all had a hand at shaping the distinct tastes of Quebec’s traditional dishes.

Quebec Cuisine Facts and History

The first settlers to Quebec arrived during the 17th and 18th centuries between 1508 and 1607. During this time, the French settlers came into contact with the St. Lawrence Iroquoians (First Nations), who were looking to trade their furs. From here on out small trading posts were established across the land creating a network of cod, fishing, farming and fur trade commerce. This network of trading was extremely profitable and is what brought about the interest of a permanent colonization. By the end of the 17th century there were over 20,000 people of French origin who had settled in New France. The population was predominantly French-speaking Roman Catholics.

Quebecois cuisine

Since Quebecois cuisine dates back to the early 17th century, it is made up of a wide variety of ingredients. From French baked bread, to locally and organically grown maple syrup, to fruits, vegetables, fish and pork are just some of the more common elements. When the settlers arrived and were able to trade with the First Nations, they came across foods like beans which were then baked, corn, and fish like cod and salmon. Most of these ingredients can be found in the more recognizable dishes like cretons which is a pork spread, tarte au sucre which is sugar pie and Tartine d’Antan which is a maple sugar dessert made with fresh bread, cream and maple syrup.

Overall, Quebecois cuisine is a myriad of influences that have come together to make this distinct culture. From the trading with the First Nations, to the impact of the English and Irish, to the trading among their own people, the Quebecois have been improving on their traditional dishes throughout the centuries.

Quebec Cuisine Menu

Breakfast:

French Canadians eat more of a European style breakfast which would include pastries, cheese and bread. A breakfast menu would consist of items like:

• Cretons (pork meat spread),
• Toast,
• Hot cereal,
• Bagels,
• Hash Browns,
• Eggs/Omelettes,
• Pancakes,
• Fried Pork,
• Breakfast sandwiches/wraps
• Crepes

Lunch:

Typical lunch choices tend to be hot foods and may include:

• Baked Beans (usually served with maple syrup),
• Pea soup (carrots, peas, pork, vegetables),
• Soupe aux Gourganes (bean soup)
• Doughboys (dumpings)
• Poutine (French fries, gravy and cheese),
• Sandwiches (meat)
• Sausages

Snacks:

Are usually things like donuts and cookies:

• Oreilles de Crisse (deep fried pork)
• Whippet Cookies
• Poutine
• Apple Donuts
• Butter Tarts,

Dinner:

Is either a meat dish like a stew or soup, or a pie.

• Meatball stew,
• Meat Pie (Tourtiere),
• Pig’s Trotter Stew (potatoes, spices, pork),
• Jambon Braise a la Biere (ham with maple beer)
• Coq au Vin Stew (Chicken, garlic, wine),
• Beef Bourguignon (beef stew)
• Pate Chinois (French Shepard’s pie)

Desserts:

Classic dessert foods include:

• Pouding Chomeur (Pudding Cake),
• Sugar Pie,
• Molasses taffy,
• Gateau aux Bleuets (blueberry sour cream torte)
• Whippet Cookies
• Sugar cream pie,
• Sugar cream fudge

Drinks:

Popular Quebec drinks include:
• Ice cider,
• Maple whiskey,
• Maple cider,
• Fruit wines,
• Spirits
• Locally crafted beer,
• Hot chocolate
• Coffee
• Tea
• Spruce Beer

Holiday Menus:

Typically, the below lists will work for any holiday which includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. However, each holiday menu will vary from family to family and will have a mixture of traditional and modern foods.

Christmas:

• Shepard’s Pie,
• Meat Pie,
• Turkey,
• Ham,
• Cranberries,
• Poor Man’s Pudding,
• Donuts,
• Yule Log,
• Broccoli/Carrots/vegetables,
• Mashed potatoes,
• Fruit Cake,
• Lasagna,
• Torte (Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry)
• French bread.

Easter:

• Sugar cream fudge,
• Meatball stew,
• Poor Man’s Pudding,
• Mashed Potatoes,
• Meat Pie,
• Cake,
• Ham,
• Turkey,
• Wraps,
• French bread
• Steak/Venison

Most Popular Dishes

• Poutine,
• Pea Soup,
• Meat Pie,
• Pudding Cake,
• Sugar Pie,
• Baked Beans,
• Crepes

Most Used Ingredients:

• Meat/Fish: Salmon, Cod, Pork, Chicken, Beef, Venison, Boar, Caribou, Shellfish, Mackerel, Halibut, Herring and Deer.

• Vegetables: Potatoes, Eggs, Onions, Peas, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Beans, Corn.
• Fruits: Apples, Cherries, Blueberries, Raisins, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cranberries,

• Other: Nutmeg, Cloves, Pepper, Garlic, Maple Syrup, Cheese, Gravy, Salt, Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Cinnamon, Yogurt.

The above list is not a full representation, but does give you a good idea of what is used in a lot of Quebecois recipes.

Travelling Foodie: What to Eat When You Travel to Quebec

If you’re planning on travelling to Quebec, then there are some dishes that you must try! In terms of traditional Quebecois food, you’re going to want to try apple donuts, blueberry torte, and sugar cream pie. In terms of actual heavy laden dishes, you’re going to want to go with poutine, crepes, poor man’s pudding, and pea soup. Drinks on the other hand, you’re going to want to try the ice cider, maple whiskey, and maple cider. If you’re planning on going to a sugar shack, then make sure to try the meat pie (Tourtiere) and any of their desserts. If you can, also take a look at their cheese and any of the street meat!