While America has a plethora of culinary "pleasures" ($3 beer! Burgers the size of beavers! Deep-fried anything!), there are a number of Canadian foods that make me deeply homesick and appreciate my Canadian origins.
Disappointingly, the only Caesars found on U.S. menus are of the salad variety. A Canadian brunch staple, the Caesar cannot be beaten for its ability to kick hangovers in the groin and to wake up your tastebuds. Comparatively, the Bloody Mary is a sad, soupy alternative, often with inferior garnishes and table salt on the rim. Clamato is difficult to source, and the best I can find online is a dubious generic alternative. Attempts to DIY by ordering the clam appetizer and mashing it into a paste will surely result in disapproving looks and likely expulsion from seafood restaurants.
Any Canadian I care to know understands that Ketchup chips are the best chips. Unlike sour cream and onion, they don’t leave a weird, powdery, greasy film on your fingers; salt and vinegar will burn your tongue; and what the heck is in all-dressed anyway? Ketchup chips can sometimes be found in the same section as chips in experimental flavours, like hot wings and triple-cheesy-cheese-o-rama, but there's just no substituting.
Kinder Surprise eggs are not only difficult to find in the U.S., but are completely illegal. The (admittedly crappy) toys inside the eggs are considered a choking hazard to children. U.S. Customs and Border Protection have allegedly seized over 60,000 of the delightful chocolatey treats, and any attempt to smuggle them into the country can have serious consequences. I’m inclined to compare them to other potentially hazardous items that are legalized in America, but we’ll save that for the political blogs, and just say that I’m going to miss building my collection of miniature trains and Smurf figurines.
Coffee plus chocolate -- it’s a no-brainer. You can imagine my shock and disappointment (though I was proud) when I discovered that Coffee Crisp is a uniquely Canadian thing that isn't offered in the States. Americans who want to experience the combination will just have to dip a Mr. Big into their coffee or something. I’m holding onto my Canadian passport.
Side dishes other than fries
Though I don't have a specific Canadian dish in mind, eating in U.S. makes me realize just how good we have it in terms of diversity in side dishes. In America, your options are typically fries, extra fries, or if you’re in the hip part of town, yam fries. Requesting an alternative, like salad, usually results in a $2 extra charge and a pitiful look from the server.
Maybe it's true in 'Merica that you don't win friends with salad.
The coffee shop near my office has a selection of small round pastries dipped in coconut and hazelnuts. Timbits, right? The barista had no idea what I was talking about, and when I asked her what she called them, she responded with, “Umm… We just call them pastries,or doughnut holes, I guess.”
This is a sad country, I guess.
Tiger ice cream
Technically called Tiger Tail ice cream, this orange and licorice dessert has a special spot in my childhood memories. I was describing this to a group of Americans the other day, and they looked at me like I was insane. They asked me, “Um... Is it for Halloween?” and unanimously expressed that it sounded crazy.
I literally saw frozen “strawberry pie doughnut dessert pops” in the grocery store yesterday. So, yeah, America, the combination of orange and licorice is totally insane.