New York City feels like it’s home to people from every country on earth, and yet I, born in raised in Gotham, did not meet a living, breathing Canadian until my mid-twenties. I’m not sure if they avoid the city entirely, or just keep a low profile so as not to be subjected to incessant jokes about maple syrup. Well over a decade after the rise of Jewish smoked brisket and Montreal bagels across New York, we’ve embraced the meat, but still have some (perfectly valid) concerns about those comically small bagels.
A few years ago, one of my homesick Canadian friends decided that on Monday nights, she’d transform her Lower East Side restaurant into “The Great Canadian Beer Hall,” foregoing her famous fine dining menu for lowbrow Canadian fare. The wine list was swapped out for ice cold buckets of Molson; televisions were brought in to show hockey games and Meatballs. There was poutine and Crown Royal, Nanaimo bars and beaver tails, but the thing that threw me for a total loop was the nachos. Canadian nachos.
The nachos were a replica of those served at legendary Toronto dive bar Sneaky Dee’s, and they’re brilliantly made on top of a full-sized pizza pan, giving the chips more than enough room to be spread into a single layer—an innovation that allows each and every chip to get coated with broiled cheese and toppings. It’s a feat of engineering that’s so simple, I was infuriated that they’d never been served to me that way before! Why had I been served mountains of sloppy nachos piled high more for the aesthetics than for pleasing me? Canada’s bar food had bested the United States’. It wasn’t the first time, and it most definitely won’t be the last.
What other snacks do they do better up north?