4

Apr

Foods of Nova Scotia – Have You Heard of These Nova Scotian Specialties?

by Lisa on April 4, 2012 in Canada,Food

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This is part of a multi-part series on Canada’s beautiful province of Nova Scotia.

Like all places, Nova Scotia has its indigenous foods, many I’d never even heard before, let alone was able to spell.  As I often tend to do, I found myself eating my way through this tiny province with no shortage of tasty morsels and fresh foods at every turn.

Rappie Pie

The Blob? - aka Rappie Pie

This traditional Acadian dish is not really pie at all actually. Rappie pie, or Rapûre, was described to me as a “glue-like” casserole made from potatoes and chicken broth.  Suffice it to say, the descriptor is quite accurate, leaving not much more to say than that. Potatoes and glue – dropping into my stomach like an adobe brick – not the most flavorful, and not really an attractive dish, but most likely filling on a cold, wet winter day.  It’s often topped with molasses or butter.

Fricot

Fricot

Here we have basically the same ingredients as rappie pie, but this is not allowed to gel or congeal into it’s cousin’s gluey state and remains more of a thick chicken-stew.  The flavor reminds me of something grandma would give you if you were sick, but with the consistency of gumbo.

Quahogs

Quahogs, or hard-shell clams, are shellfish that live in mud flats along the eastern seaboard from Canada to Florida. The name comes from the Indian name “poquauhock,” meaning horse fish.

In fish markets there are specialty names for different sizes of this species of clam like littlenecks, topnecks, cherrystones, and the largest being called quahogs or chowder clams. We even tried a quahog burger from the Roadside Grill.

Solomon Gundy

We couldn’t find the exact origins of this name – whether it is Jamaican or from an old British term – I actually ate Solomon Gundy growing up, but we simply called it pickled herring. I couldn’t find much of a difference in the pickling juice, onions, and smoked herring as it is found here in Nova Scotia compared to how it would be at a deli on Manhattan’s lower east side.  It has a strong taste and, as a kid, I didn’t like it at all. Of course, like most things, it’s grown on me and now I find it quite tasty!

Chowder 

Clam Chowder

Anyone from New England – the Boston-area and north of there – claims the ‘best’ chowder. The word chowder has its roots in the Latin word calderia, which came to mean cooking pot. In French, the term became chaudiere which is starting to sound much more like ‘chowder’. It also could from the old English word jowter (a fish peddler). Like many dishes from the past, it originated as a sort of ‘poor man’s’ stew with bits of whatever was at hand thrown in. Whatever the term;s origins, here in Atlantic Canada, good chowder is a given. Fleshy bits of seafood in a creamy broth of milk, potatoes,  onions is the typical make-up of this popular dish.  And if you just can’t get enough, you can see Nova Scotia by following the Chowder Trail and filling your stomach with hearty bowls of this specialty from all around the province.  Without even realizing it, I had hit quite a few of these spots during my visit like Charlotte Lane, Churchill’s at Digby Pines, and La Vista at the Atlantica Resort.  In writing this article, I’ve also learned that Chowder is also the main character of a cartoon in which all the main characters have food names like Shnitzel, Paninin, and Gazpacho.  Might have to check that out.

Lunenburg Pudding 

Just like Rappie ‘Pie’, this is no dessert.  Back in ‘Ye Olde British times’, the word pudding actually meant sausage. Sadly I never got to try this spicy encased meat of cooked beef, pork, and other animal innards. The “pudding” resembles a cross between a firm paté and liverwurst.

Dulse

Dulse

Probably the most intense food I tried in Nova Scotia, dulse is basically a healthy snack food of dried red algae. It is popular in Northern Ireland, Iceland, and the Eastern parts of Canada.  Being a sushi lover and having had many a seaweed-wrapped maki, I though I was prepared for the ocean-like flavor.  Wow. This was much more intense than I ever expected.  Eating dulse is like eating a dried concentrated fruit roll-up of the sea…definitely an acquired taste and fittingly a hugely imported product to Japan. It is a good source of minerals and vitamins compared with other vegetables, contains all trace elements needed by humans, and has a high protein content.

  dulse

Irish Moss

Keji Park Moss and Dulse

Also known as carrageenan moss, this is commonly used as a thickener. You may have seen it on your ice cream or lunch meat ingredients.  We saw it on the beach, but didn’t actually take a bite out of it.

And of course all types of shellfish like oysters, scallops, and lobster are quite common and plentiful in these parts. In fact, the hot debate of the “right” way to cook lobster rages on.  Coming soon…a video of one Nova Scotian’s ‘right way.’

Have you ever had any of these dishes?

For more info on the foods of Nova Scotia go to the Taste of Nova Scotia.

Disclosure:  I was a guest of Southwest Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Tourism, & the White Point Beach Resort, but, as always, my writing and views are my own.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Hamilton Lake April 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Yuck! Rappie pie. Glue pie, you mean.

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Linda April 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I am highly offended by refering our dish as glue..Italians have spegitti that look like worms ..and god knows what other nations call food so go easy on rappi pie..if you knew the work to make it from scratch you'd change your mind..mind you now with modern gadgets making it is easier and it does look like glue but if made the old fashioned way and seasoned proprely and not from a can it looks and tastes way better…

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Hi Linda-
Thanks for chiming in. I was told by my guide herself that it was a 'glue-like pie' as it really did describe the consistency somewhat. I could see it being a good food for a cold winter night. :)

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:43 pm

It's not for everyone! :) But didn't taste bad actually.

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Leigh April 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I like Solomon Grundy too – at least the Nova Scotia version. I'll pass on the dulse – but where's the blueberry pie – probably not in season but that always says NS to me too.

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Thanks Leigh! Oh…I was also told about Blueberry Grunt. Ever have that?

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Authentic Seacoast April 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

A great list of unique Nova Scotia dishes, Lisa. Another Nova Scotia delicacy to add to your list is Pork Pie. There's no pork and it's not actually a pie, but delicious date tarts with maple icing. The perfect dessert to end a meal in Nova Scotia. Doug at the Authentic Seacoast

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Thanks Doug at A.S.! I can't believe they call it Pork Pie with no pork! Why?? Sounds pretty yummy though. :)

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Kevin Ftizpatrick April 5, 2012 at 11:31 am

Note to self: If you go to Nova Scotia, bring a suitcase full of beef jerky.

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Oh Kevin….you'd be fine. :) Tons of different food there. These were just the unique ones! :)

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Cynthia April 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

No, need to bring beef jerky Kevin. I assure you there is plenty of amazing cuisine here. You name it, you can get it. The Rappie pie is definitely an acquired taste. Some LOVE it, especially those with Acadian roots who grew up with it. But there are all sorts of culinary hot spots through out the province. Personally, I love the seafood. But I've always managed to satisfy my craving for a good steak as well if beef is your thing. Hopefully Lisa was able to order up some Nova Scotia dishes that were more to her liking. Kudos to your for trying some traditional dishes though Lisa. We know Rappie Pie isn't for everyone. But those who love it, love it a lot.

Cynthia from novascotia.com

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Kevin Ftizpatrick April 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

Unlike our dear friend Lisa, Ms. Cynthia, I'm not one to experiment trying new things. I've got a latent allergy to most seafood. I think my tastes were established by my 5th birthday. Nova Scotia isn't weird; Kevin is. You could probably tell without this international admission. If I go, I'll be boring and get the steak. Beef and Cheese are always high on my list. The beautiful sights there are more than enough to satisfy my international experience. Everyone else in my family is a better traveler than I am. I'm content with my idiosyncrasies and try to put them to work for me. If I get there, I'll look you up so you can warn the cows!

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Thanks for the comment Cynthia! I had great food in Nova Scotia. I do like nearly everything, but i really did enjoy the scallops, and Solomon Gundy! But yes, I ate steak in Halifax, delicious meal at Charolotte Lane cafe in Shelburne (post up soon!) and all kinds of wonderful and diverse foods throughout the province. We even made s'mores at White Point Beach resort. :)

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Astrea April 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

So sorry you had disappointing Rappie Pie and Chicken Fricot,…….I make traditional ones but with a bit of spice,and they are really delicious! My Fricot is more like a savory chicken stew (with fluffy dumplings) and Rapure can be a bit gluey but again, should be flavorful! I also recommend a good Tourtiere from here and like someone said,Pork Pies! (these are sweet mini pies made with a date filling and maple butter topping….yummm!)

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Okay, Astrea….next time I'm back there…you're on! I will have to taste your dishes. :)

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Susanne April 5, 2012 at 2:34 pm

My Cape Breton mother-in-law taught me how to make Pork Pies; they are a little shortbread cup, stuffed with cooked dates and a dollop of icing on top. They are a family favourite and remind all of us of her with every bite. As far as I know, they are a Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, dessert cookie.

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Thanks Susanne! I wish I had tried these pork pies! Who will tell me the origins of this name? :)

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GrammaD April 6, 2012 at 6:20 am

My mother Loved Dulce! I like the smell, but thats about it!!

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Dulse is definitely an acquired taste. I didn't hate it, but it had such a concentrated flavor, that I could only have a little. It's like the sea in every bag!

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Don Faust April 9, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Not sure what to think of that first picture – Rappie Pie looks like a clump of brown sugar thrown on top of a glob of applesauce. Hey… that might actually be tastier :)

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Poor Rappie pie…what have I done! :) They did put some molasses on it…if that helps Don! :)

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Onlydebster April 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

When I was a child, I thought that Rappie Pie was the most disgusting thing in the world and I refused to eat it. Now that I am older I think it is delicious (I actually had some for supper this evening.) It's an acquired taste, I guess.
However, I've never been able to convince myself that I like dulse.
Like Kevin above, I'm allergic to seafood. Yes somehow I've managed to live in N.S. most of my life and not starve to death. :)

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Lisa April 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Thanks Onlydebster! I imagine that Rappie pie is like a comfort food for many from your region…something you grow up eating.

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Joyce Case May 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I had always thought that the Pork Pie originated with mincemeat which is quite involved in making, my family in Shelburne always made mincemeat usually with the fall deer and pork mixed with raisons and apples , spices and brandy ! It made the mince pies and tarts for Christmas.

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Gary LeBlanc June 30, 2012 at 7:16 am

I enjoyed reading all the posts and got a few chuckles. The interesting thing about Acadian Food is not so much the ingredients but how it is prepared and cooked. Meat and potatoes are the staples in most acadian dishes. For example,. there are many versions of Rappie Pie, depending on where in Atlantic Canada you are from and even what family of Acadian heritage you were born in. When one looks at the history of Acadian cooking, it all depended on what your ancestors farmed;

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Lisa July 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm

HI Gary! Thanks for chiming in. I love learning about food and it's history. Glad some of these posts made you chuckle. :)

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Gary Le Blanc June 30, 2012 at 7:19 am

if your ancestors farmed poultry, you would find that most of the dishes cooked in your household would be chicken based and if your ancestors farmed beef, then that would most likely be the meat of choice in most of their acadian dishes. Depending on where you are in Nova Scotia, Rappie Pie can look and taste quite different. On Cape Breton Island, you'll find Rappie Pie is a cohesive thick dish that if not prepared and cooked to perfection, can have a gluey consistency. That just means it was not prepared by a seasoned cook of acadian cuisine. If you are in the Digby area of Nova Scotia, Rappie Pie looks more like a soup and contains dumplings. I must say that I don't believe that Rappie Pie has an acquired taste. There is nothing unusual about meat and potatoes but it's how the consistency of the dish feels in your mouth, particularly if it is not prepared and cooked to perfection. It's an art . I've had poorly made Rappie Pie and it's not a great experience.

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Lisa July 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm

You are right about the acquired taste…it had chicken flavor and potatoes. That's why it reminded me of some kind of chicken soup….but thicker.

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Gary Le Blanc June 30, 2012 at 7:20 am

Although I didn't even know that the Acadian dish called Fricot was made with any other meat other than chicken, other households in my family's community of Cheticamp on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia only used beef. So not only do acadian dishes vary from community to community, it varies from household to household. In saying all that, there is a little cafe in Truro Nova Scotia called Cafe l'Acadie that cooks up and serves traditional Acadian dishes and it is mmm mmm good! If you are ever passing through this rich Acadian Province, stop in. You won't be disappointed. Their Lobster Club Sancwiches are also mouth-watering. It's a little gem in the hub on Nova Scotia. – Sorry for the long post!!! –

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Lisa July 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Mmm…those lobster club sandwiches sound divine. Thanks for the tip! I'll have to check out your cafe during my next visit.

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