IT IS a special relationship which has seen hundreds of thousands of Scots head off for a new life on the other side of the Atlantic – with almost five million Canadians claiming to be able to trace their origins back to Scotland.
But now Scots are set to embrace foodie culture from Canada when new European Union laws mean the country’s culinary produce – including exotic meats such as bison beef or giant saltwater clam geoduck – is set to flood on to Scottish restaurant menus.
Experts have said that Canadian imports, such as maple syrup and cheese curds, will now be cheaper for Scots buyers and could spark a trend for Canadian-inspired dishes in restaurants. Other produce which could find its way to Scotland from Canada includes seafood such as black cod and wild Atlantic prawns.
The Canada EU Comprehensive Economic Free Trade Agreement, due to come into force next year, will remove 99 per cent of all tariffs on Canadian goods entering the UK and the rest of Europe.
Dishes often considered to be typical Canadian fare include poutine – a version of chips and cheese, but with added gravy and curds – a sweet maple syrup and pecan pastry called butter tart and Montreal-style bagels, which are smaller, sweeter and denser than their New York cousins.
Burger restaurant Bread Meats Bread in Glasgow began serving poutine after operations manager Ylli Dushi tasted the traditional Canadian dish while working with Canadians in London restaurants.
‘When we started it was really hard to find the cheese curds’
“We serve about 1,000 poutines a month,” said Dushi, whose take on the dish has been recommended as one of the UK’s best by Condé Nast Traveller magazine. “When we first started making it, it was really hard to find the cheese curds. It was so expensive to import them from Canada because of all the duty, but dairies here just don’t make them. Eventually we convinced a dairy in Ayrshire to make them for us.
“I think Canadian foods are something that will take the restaurant scene by storm, especially now it will be so much easier to get hold of the speciality ingredients. We may look at expanding our range of Canadian dishes as a result of the law change.”
Emma Finn, trade commissioner at the High Commission of Canada to the UK, said the change in rules could see a rise in demand for Canadian foods.
“Canadian food can fit on to a menu and offer a point of difference for people that are interested in experiencing different types of food,” she said. “The products offer something that you don’t typically see in the UK, such as bison beef or geoduck.”
She added: “We’re reaching out to chefs and to the hotel and restaurant community to make them aware of what Canada has to offer.”
Last year, Scots drink Irn-Bru was among a group of British foods banned in Canada after it emerged that it contained a red food colouring, Ponceau 4R, which was declared illegal by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Poutine is a French-Canadian delicacy made up of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. There are many variations, but this is one of the most popular recipes
4lb russet potatoes, skin-on
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
1 clove garlic
4 cups beef stock
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp whole green peppercorns
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil, for frying
2 cups cheddar cheese curds
Cut potatoes into lengths of about ¼” x ¼” x 4”. Place in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and refrigerate for about two hours.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan. Add flour, and cook, stirring, until smooth, for about two minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft for about two minutes. Add stock, ketchup, vinegar, peppercorns, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened for about six minutes. Remove from heat, and keep gravy warm.
Drain potatoes. Working in small batches, add potatoes and deep fry in 3” pan, tossing, until tender and slightly crisp – for about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Increase temperature of oil.
Working in small batches, return potatoes to the oil, and fry, tossing occasionally, until crisp and golden brown – for about two minutes. Transfer fries to paper towels to drain and then divide among serving bowls. Pour gravy over them and top with cheese curds. Serve immediately.