Bienvenue et Bon Appétit!

I’m back from Quebec, and I had such an awesome time!  It’s such an interesting place, both historically and culturally, and I must say that their approach to food was really something that struck me while I was visiting.  I found Quebec to be a ‘cityless’ city, and I mean that in the most complimentary way.  All of the stereotypes that one may have of a city- aggressive driving, incessant honking of taxis’ horns, sky high buildings, treeless scenery, and industrial complexes did not hold true in Quebec.  While the city was bustling, its constant activity didn’t mean that everybody was rushing around, busily trying to get to the next destination or see the next sight.  In fact, the entire place exuded a relaxed, laid-back type of vibe, that carried through to the dinner table at every restaurant we ate at.  

One of the aspects of the dining experience that stood out most to me was how the locals didn’t treat mealtime like it was something to get through, but rather something to savor.  Therefore, the servers and the guests took their time with one another.  Unlike so many restaurants I’ve been to in America, in Canada the servers wouldn’t immediately clear away dishes or approach a table as soon as guests had finished their meals.  Instead, they’d wait a while, as it was expected that the guests would chat amongst themselves for a while or scan the menu again before moving on to the next course.

Also, the sizes of the restaurants in Quebec were absolutely petite compared to their American counterparts, and on average, could occupy at most 30 to 40 people.  When I think about American restaurant chains, these Canadian eateries were literal holes in the wall.  In staying true with the theme of small spaces, the portion sizes in Quebec were satisfying, but did not leave me with the feeling of being absolutely stuffed.  Interestingly, even soda was provided in a slender glass bottle- no cans, and none of the patrons I saw ever asked for more than one soda throughout the duration of their meal.  As a side note, the glass soda bottles were something else- and I was ‘that tourist’ who asked the waiter if I could take mine home!  

In addition, a lot more time elapsed in Canada from the time food was ordered to the time it was delivered than it does in America.  Everything was made to order, and was super fresh- no processed, microwavable, or frozen foods served in any of the restaurants, it was all homemade.  However, there were plenty of options if you didn’t want to eat out, but none of which included large commercial grocery stores.  The grocery stores didn’t boast dozens of aisles and hundreds of square feet, and also didn’t carry the processed foods that are so prevalent in the USA.  

Quebec itself smelled like a garden… gorgeous flowering trees and bushes, along with exquisite bouquets in full bloom all decorated the city.  A lovely fruit and vegetable garden covered the expanse of the Parliament Building, which I thought was really an awesome use of space.  And I can’t not talk about the desserts, (oh my gosh!) the French Macaroons were so delicious.  At the end of the vacation, I left wishing that there were bakeries in walking distance of my house… sigh.

Have you been to Quebec?  If so, what did you notice about the culture and the food?  Let me know!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂 

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4 thoughts on “Bienvenue et Bon Appétit!

  1. El

    If one has never been to Canada, you sure gave a beautiful insight into the culture, the
    atmosphere and the dining. It makes me want to go away again soon. Thanks Katie

  2. Erin LaRosa

    I grew up just outside of Montreal and often get together with good friends who still live there. I found your observations about Canadian food culture to be spot-on! One thing I notice most about the culture around food when I’m with my Canadian friends, is that Quebec-ers love to enjoy a very slow, relaxed dinner hour. They enjoy a cocktail or hors d’oeuvres around the time most American’s would be eating dinner. Then they sit down for dinner very late, sometimes as late as 9 or 10:00, and linger at the dinner table for a long time, even after everybody is done eating. It is different, but a nice change of pace.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts… I didn’t know that you grew up in Montreal… how cool! I definitely agree with you that the dinner hour in Canada is a lot more relaxed, it’s definitely a nice change of pace! 🙂

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