By Bev Schellenberg
McDonald’s is the official 2010 Winter Olympics fast food sponsor, as evidenced by their ubiquitous billboards and TV ads showing Canadian Olympians about to consume supposedly performance-enhancing food. But while games-goers may enjoy collecting the Olympic mascot toys and drinking from the official Olympic water bottle, their eating preferences are, literally, all over the map.
One of the biggest food successes is the Japadog, a plump pork sausage dressed with such unique toppings as dried fish flakes, cabbage, and teriyaki sauce. According to a local TV report, people have been lining up at Japadog stands for as long as an hour to enjoy the homegrown delicacy. Another hot item is British Columbian Chinese food. Beijing may be tops in the opening ceremonies category, but we, ironically, best them in this one. Writes Mark Schatzker in the February issue of Conde Nast Traveler: “I would say I’ve eaten Chinese food all over North America and in China and the best I’ve eaten in the world was in Vancouver. Hands down.”
Invented closer to home, though not exactly nearby, is another British Columbian favourite: poutine. A Quebecois creation, this cheese curd, french fry, and gravy delight can be enjoyed locally at most Burger Kings and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. Apparently, it’s now also entered New York cuisine as “disco fries.” But be warned: it can be dangerous, and not just for one’s arteries, especially if you fall face first into it.
Nevertheless, poutine has been proposed as Canada’s national food, a welcome possibility considering Canadians are unsure what else would even be in the running: is maple syrup a food? Many Olympic partiers were disgruntled to discover private downtown liquor stores closed by 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday on the first weekend of the Olympics. Maybe they’d vote for beer.
And while some British Columbians might argue that smoked salmon should own the podium, the same could be said of beaver tails, which originated in Ottawa. No beavers are injured in the making of these mini-pastries, though a lot of BCers might wish otherwise, given that the rascally rodents have a nasty habit of reproducing in large numbers and making dams. That’s why we cull them hereabouts. But maybe we should consider marketing them instead. After all, if John Burey of Australia figures he can sell that country’s nuisance cane toad to to the Chinese, what’s to stop us from convincing those partying New Yorkers that nothing goes better with poutine than a side order of beaver meat?
Canada offers such a mosaic of food offerings, we’ll probably never come up with a national food that everyone can agree upon. But that appears to be just fine with our visitors. Perhaps the best option is to join them in wholeheartedly sampling the Olympic offerings, and, as the Star‘s Paul Watson does in this mouth-watering video, “eat our way around the world.”