Quebec jambon cru (cured French ham) in Quebec City, Canada (2014)
French Canadian. I never really understood what that phrase meant until visiting Quebec. All my life I’ve heard that this part of Canada speaks French, but what I failed to grasp is that Quebec is as much French as Canadian in basically every way. The language is French, yes, but so is the culture, the architecture and above all else – the food. Sure, there’s a ton of maple syrup and an endless number of things made with it. Yeah there’s smoked meat and poutine around every corner. Those things are a given. Without looking very hard though you can find very traditional, old-world French dishes like cassoulet and pot-au-feu, all kinds of old-school charcuterie like the above jambon cru, fromage de tête, classic boudin noir and numerous terrines made from pork, duck and game. Quebec even produces a number of local cheeses and wines on par with their French counterparts. Then there are the markets, like Marché Jean-Talon, that are absolutely exploding with every kind of fruit and vegetable you can imagine – mostly grown within Quebec itself. That’s not to say that if you want Chinese or Thai or Indian or Lebanese or Portuguese or Japanese food you can’t find it. On the contrary, these things abound, along with modern takes on several world cuisines and hybrid places that round out the offerings. Having visited places like Paris and Provence, Avignon and Carpentras a decade ago though, and remembering how good classic French Cuisine can be, it’s nice to know that Cuisine Québécoise has love for Cuisine Française.