Most Canadians will eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Though schedules vary depending on the individual or family, breakfast is generally consumed shortly after waking (between 7am-9am); lunch is generally eaten between noon and 2pm, and dinner (sometimes called supper) is most commonly eaten in the evening, around 6pm-7pm.
There is no way to define what the “average” Canadian eats as this is influenced heavily by region and family, especially between households with different cultures or ancestry. Generally, “Canadian cuisine” is a blend of Western and other world foods. The types of foods and dishes consumed by Canadians are extremely diverse. Sometimes, versions of traditional dishes from other parts of the world have been altered or “westernized” to suit a different palate or make do with available ingredients.
Ranching, farming, and agriculture are important industries in Canada. Meat is regularly consumed in Canada, especially beef, pork, and chicken; some restaurants and farmers even sell or serve bison meat. Fresh fish and seafood may be found in coastal areas . Dairy products such as cheeses, milk, and yogurt are also popular with many Canadians. Vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming increasingly common, and many restaurants will have options to accommodate these diets.
A variety of fruits and vegetables are available at most supermarkets, both locally grown and imported. The freshest local produce can often be found in the summer season at farmer’s markets.
Canada is known for its maple syrup and for poutine, a dish originating in Quebec, consisting of French fries, brown gravy and cheese curds (sometimes with additional toppings). Other uniquely Canadian dishes and treats include butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, and tourtière, a type of meat pie.
Dining Out with Friends or Colleagues
If you are invited out to lunch, dinner, or even a cup of coffee with your friends or peers, do not assume that the person who made the invitation (or any other person in the group) will pay for your food and beverages unless he or she specifies to you that they will be purchasing your meal by giving you an indication such as saying “My treat” or “It’s on me”. When dining in a group, separate bills are common, allowing every person to pay for what he or she ordered on an individual bill. It is courteous to notify your server in advance if you would like separate bills. If someone does pay for your meal, you may want to consider finding an opportunity to reciprocate on another occasion as a sign of courtesy and thanks, although this is not mandatory or expected of you.
In Canada, many individuals working in the service industry depend on gratuities to supplement their wages. If you are dining out at a restaurant (with the exception of most fast-food restaurants, such as McDonalds), it is customary to leave a tip or gratuity for your server. An appropriate tip is approximately 15% of your total bill. It is appropriate to tip slightly less for poor service, and slightly more for excellent service or if your group is very large; some restaurants may charge an automatic 15-18% gratuity for larger groups. In most cases, tipping is not mandatory but is widely practised and withholding a tip is considered rude to your server.
It is also common to tip other workers in the service industry, including:
- Your bartender
- Your hairstylist or for other salon services
- Your delivery driver or taxi driver
Although for the above services, a tip of 10-15% may suffice. If you are ever unsure about whether or not you should leave a tip or what amount is appropriate, feel free to ask nearby Canadian friends or consult the internet.
In Canada, most people will eat with a fork, knife, spoon, or other utensils—unless it is a type of food commonly eaten by hand (pizza, sandwiches, tacos, fries, etc). Watch your companions and follow their example if you are ever unsure. Keeping your arms and elbows off the table is considered polite. If you desire a food dish or item that is not within easy reach, it is better to ask someone at the table to pass it to you rather than reaching far over the table to grab it. You should avoid belching, slurping noisily, chewing with your mouth open and speaking while you are chewing. Use a napkin rather than licking your fingers.
If you are invited to dine in someone’s home, it is generally acceptable to leave small portions of food uneaten. You do not need to force yourself to eat everything on your plate if you are full or if you strongly dislike the taste. If you receive a dinner invitation to someone’s home you may wish to bring dessert, flowers or a bottle of wine as a show of appreciation, although this is not required.