Canada is many things to me: A place we used to visit every summer when my dad was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station oh so many years ago. Many adolescent road trips to extended family in Ontario. The land of maple syrup and Canadian bacon. And just recently, a place of many food discoveries.
I’ve been trying to keep straight in my mind all the trips I’ve taken over the last month. The trip to Canada was actually appended onto a trip to the Midwest for my brother’s wedding. Canada was a last-minute suggestion from my mom to visit relatives in St. Catherine’s, Ontario — a suburb an hour outside of Toronto. Between the rush of getting our passports renewed and our most recent trip for our anniversary, Canada was a nice diversion. Although the majority of it was visiting family– specifically cousins I haven’t seen in years– I enjoyed exploring more of the city since my last visit which only lasted a few hours.
The experience with driving into Canada through Port Huron, Mich., was experience. For one, the huge sign warning drivers to go no faster than 80 km an hour (converted to 49.7 miles per an hour for us on the metric system). Apparently, that’s only reserved for Americans (according to my uncle). Wayne Gretzky winery? Totally legit wine. And the food trucks selling french fries and other foods by the side of the road? They’re affectionally call chip wagons by the locals.
We saw our first chip wagon a few miles inside of Ontario during a necessary fill-up, sitting by the side of the petrol station.
Peggy Sue’s chip wagon sold more than fish ‘n chips— chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, onion rings and pogos. Pogos? According to the woman, a pogo is— and this is verbatim— “a hot dog with a stick through it that’s battered and fried.” When I asked if I was a corndog, her entire face lit up realizing that I knew what it was. While I didn’t order the pogo, I did order the poutine with a side order of fish ‘n chips.
It seems like poutine is big this year; a few places in San Diego even serve it. For the uninitiated, it’s french fries topped with curds and gravy. Didn’t you know that it’s one of Canada’s national treasures? While it’s one of the few times I’ve had poutine in my life, it was deliciously filling especially for the road weary. And the sweltering 30 degrees C (86 degrees F), didn’t deter me from finishing the hot mopping mess of gravy after the fries were gone.
The fish ‘n chips were nothing to scoff at either. It was served with tartar sauce, and if you wanted some malt vinegar, it was available in a squirt bottle right by the ordering window.
While the rest of the trip was broken up with multiple visits to Tim Horton’s, a visit to the grocery store to show Paul milk in plastic bags and my first taste of Vegemite, Canada offers so much more than Niagara Falls. I can’t wait to return.