The curious story behind these 5 traditional Quebec dishes

As the oldest province in the country, Quebec has always maintained a strong sense of cultural pride. Through its history, folklore and art, the province has, in many ways, helped define Canada’s identity.

If you need it for proof, look no further than the gastronomic delights that Quebecers have invented. Their rich, regional flavors, revealing a rich history, are at the forefront of every dish.

We wanted to know how some of these beloved classic and hearty recipes came to be, so we spoke to a tour guide and expert in all things Quebecois, Thom Seivewright.

Here is what we learned about the regional cuisine of the province.

Pea soup

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Pea soup is the ultimate treat, especially after a long winter day. A classic variation includes split yellow peas, vegetables and spices, and a ham shank or bone.

And although most of the French-Canadian dishes we know today are inspired by British cuisine, pea soup is reminiscent of France, according to Seivewright.

“When we were a French colony even before the British came here, soups were very popular because a lot could be made very cheaply. And something as robust as pea soup worked well with our climate. he explains, adding that “most of the people in the French colony here were half-workers, so their work was long and physical. The peas, which turned out to be inexpensive, provided them with the food they needed.

As for the pork, it is no coincidence that it is the meat of choice in this recipe. To date, pork is the most consumed meat in Quebec.

Chinese dough

Chinese dough

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Often served with sautéed onions but always served with corn, beef and mashed potatoes, when it comes to tracing the origin of this shepherd’s pie variant, Seivewright, like many others. researchers, is a bit lost.

“I don’t want to discourage anyone, but the only thing I’m going to say is fucking luck trying to find the origins of this one. People have been debating this for years,” he said.

While it’s entirely possible that the dish was named after 19th-century Chinese immigrants who consumed a mixture of the three inexpensive ingredients at work, Jean-Pierre Lemasson, author of the book The unfathomable mystery of shepherd’s pie, should disagree. His research concluded that these railway workers ate rice and soybeans at work, which disproves the theory.

The author also notes that Chinese dough had only appeared on the tables of French-Canadian families in the 1930s, which debunks other design assumptions for the dish.

As experts debate the mystery recipe’s origins which are still, for the most part, unknown, we’ll gladly have a second serving of the Comfort Food.

Beans in lard

maple beans

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Slowly cooked in a sweet maple syrup sauce and mixed with pieces of bacon, lard beans are an essential part of an authentic French-Canadian breakfast.

Although beans were never discovered in Quebec or considered regional in the province, they became part of this signature dish as a result of cultural exchanges between Quebecers and New English in the 19th century. Boston baked beans are believed to have directly inspired baked beans.

But once you’ve tasted the goodness of maple, you’ll never settle for the alternative.


A&W Canada

Legend has it that Warwick restaurateur Fernand Lachance first combined the curd, fries and sauce at the request of a customer who ordered the ingredients separately so they could prepare the mixture at home. The restaurateur thought the recipe sounded like a mess, which in French-Canadian slang of the 1950s is called “poutine”.

Lachance added the item to his menu, where it quickly gained popularity across the province, and the rest is history… well, not really.

Seivewright claims there are at least three rural towns within a few miles of Warwick that claim to have created poutine. “You will probably find a dozen restaurants that all claim poutine was invented there,” he explains.

It makes sense that more than one person would want to jump on this gravy train.

Unemployed pudding


This dessert, which roughly translates to ‘poor man’s pudding’ in English, is a deliciously simple twist on British bread pudding.

“I think generally when you try to talk about typical cuisine, dismiss the idea of ​​any kind of French inspiration, because almost all of our cuisine is British inspired,” says Seivewright. “French recipes kind of got lost, which probably happened when we were a British colony. And all the evidence of our French culinary history sort of vanished by that time. “

But if it has English roots, Pudding unemployed is its own thing. And it’s arguably better than its inspiration, thanks to its inclusion of maple syrup on the sugar. “That’s what makes her a Quebecer,” he said.

“That’s what makes it delicious,” we say.

Whether you are a tourist or a local, there is always more to discover in Montreal. To book a guided tour with Thom, visit his website.

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