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  • Shanzé Shah

Canada - ah canada.

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

I am not quite sure where to begin with Canada. I spent just around 7 months living in the country, through lockdown, out of lockdown, and then travelling over four of its provinces. Toronto was home and I think to some extent will always be so. Having given some thought as to how to divide this I am going to go about it through food I cooked and food I ate, divided into the places I was in.


I can say this without hesitation, Toronto has exceptional food. There’s everything from any corner of the world, packed with flavour and a very large North American portion. There is no doubt that I ate well, very well.

Toronto - In

So let's begin with home. Toronto is a huge metropolis, extremely diverse, has quite the windchill in the winter and has a wild food scene. Whilst I ordered here and there, as I was working I cooked quite a lot at home. During my time there I went to surplus grocery stores, stocked my kitchen full of ingredients new and old, and cooked at least a few times a week.


So first here are some dinners I made.


Coconut & Aubergine Curry with Pickled Onions

Tuna Steaks

This ended up being one of go to meals. I would make a random concoction of a salad with whatever I had in the fridge, marinate the tuna steak and then grill. Simple but I changed up the flavours every time and because the tuna was good quality, it always worked out!

Turkish Dumplings

Handmade dough filled with meat of choice in a garlic yogurt sauce

Thai Pad Kra Pow - With homegrown Thai Basil!

(For those who know me, know that this is one of my favourite foods in the world)

Spicy Prawn Ramen, Enoki Mushrooms, Grapefruit & Semolina Cake, Asparagus & Eggs, Tomato Chutney & Lentils and Rice

And as I am going through food I cooked at home, during Ramadan (which fell later in the year) I also cooked quite a bit at home, so below are some of my iftars.


Some of the things below include: Roasted chicken & Veg. Dumplings. Chaat. Spring Onion Pancakes with Chilli Oil.

For Eid which is the final celebration at the end of Ramadan. I invited some of friends over and cooked a little feast of green lamb chops, biryani, baba ghanoush & sweet vermicelli.

Alright then, thats that, lets move onto things I definitely did not cook.


Toronto- Out

Something that slightly blew my mind were Fish Taco's from Kensington Market. Maybe the food I loved the most in Toronto.


Fish Tacos - Kensington Market

& as I am on Kensington Market, it was there that I was also introduced to Magonada (a mango, tajin drink) & Chamoy (mexican chilli sauce) . My favourite flavours are spice and sour, and this is the only kind of sweet desert esque thing I ever want to eat.

Tondu Ramen - very very good ramen.

Somewhere in Chinatown - Also great ramen but most importantly great silken tofu on a very rainy day.

Naan & Chai - These were naans that were filled with bihari boti, green chutney and yogurt. Amazing. The place has a bunch of flavours, a bunch of fillings and massive portions.

No restaurant but I was invited to celebrate Chinese New Years at my friends house & LOOK!

& here is the friend in question, as we devour food from Maha's brunch (an Egyptian spot) and some other south-asian snacks.

Dai Lo & Patria - More upscale restaurants but nonetheless wondrous food. One being Spanish and the other Thai.


Lapinou - This was my favourite upscale restaurant. The service was great, I went here just after lockdown had ended and it was a very grand evening.

who knew scallops & strawberries are meant to be.

Banu - Iranian food with maybe the kindest service.

On the topic of Persian food, here are some monster Persian sandwiches from Finch.

Balaggio - A very swish seafood dinner.

My sweet tooth is very minimal but I do love cheesecake so shared some cheesecake out in the park.

This was towards the end of April...we could only eat outside and so we did.

This is just a little glimpse of Toronto and the wondrous food the city gave me alongside a plethora of memories, so so many. Here is the view from my condo of Lake Ontario, I was wildly lucky to see this every single day. You have so much of much heart TO.


Rest of Canada - Algonquin (Ontario), Quebec, British Columbia & Alberta

After finishing my scholarship in Toronto, I spent a few weeks travelling around a very large Canada. Starting with a camping trip in the beautiful Algonquin park, followed by the very funky city of Montreal and a more Eurocentric Quebec City. After which I bid my goodbyes to the east coast and headed west. Here I was in Vancouver and then travelled all the way through the Rocky Mountains seeing the big four lakes, into Alberta through Banff and Jasper, ending in Whistler. West coast Canada, natural beauty wise is another world, I still can't comprehend all that I saw.


Camping, Algonquin

My previous campus stints have been nowhere near as extensive as our three night stay in the national park and so my friend came armed with kitchen equipment, and I with all the ingredients.

Including all coffee contraptions because towards the evenings and early mornings, even with it being summer, the temperature dipped low.

This was the set up for one of the meals, just a spicy concoction of veg with soup, simple but there something quite magical preparing a whole meal outdoors.

This doesn't look like much but cous cous with a bunch of spices and veg is a great option for outdoor cooking because it requires very minimal equipment.

Its a wondrously beautiful part of Ontario and to have camped, canoed, cooked and hiked here will always be very special.


Quebec

Cool, that is the first word that comes to mind for this part of Canada. My mediocre French speaking abilities aided my travels here and made me feel quite comfortable. My affection for Montreal grew quickly due to its abundance of style, surplus vintage shops and an environment of ease. So below is some of what I ate as I wandered around, rode a moped, took some trains, searched for some surfing all in 35'C heat.

a fancy breakfast, some very delicious dumplings in Chinatown, a Portuguese brunch and I had to try poutine once, of course it had to be in Quebec.

Here is some funky river surfing just outside of Montreal.


British Columbia & Alberta

This part of Canada is a gifted place. The landscape and nature isn't quite comparable to anything else, so food wasn't quite at the forefront here but of course I ate.

Seeing as there is a lack of food photos, here are just some of the magical views I got to see.

Just like that my time in Canada was over. To say I am insanely grateful isn't quite enough to describe the gratitude I feel for having had the opportunity to do, see, experience and eat, all that I did.


I of course did not head home straight, with Hawaii being close by (as close by one can be to Hawaii), a stop was made. Followed by one other stop, & then back to London. Canada, you will always have a very special place in my heart.

 

Shanzé

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