Foods From Around the World — Ottawa Edition
Have you ever found yourself on your couch on a Friday night craving a salad? We didn’t think so. After getting your ass kicked at work this week, what you really need is some comfort food.
While every culture has its own take on it, you’ll notice certain similarities: we’re talkin food so tasty and satisfying it might dethrone your mom’s cooking. Food so filling you’d better change into your stretchy pants.
But, wait, what do you know about comfort foods from around the world? If you're ready to pretend you’re Anthony Bourdain (RIP) and taste a sampling, this list is for you.
📍P.S. Ottawa locals, we’ve got you covered with spots to try these dishes without leaving your home turf.
Let’s start at home, with three ingredients that unite us all: french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Whether you’re out for Greek or Chinese, this Canadian fave pops up on all types of menus. It’s like that old acquaintance you keep running into– except poutine is always a pleasant surprise.
The dish hails from Quebec and comes in many forms. But, hey, not everyone is going to use hand-cut double-fried french fries and rich veggie gravy– just sayin’.
There are dozens of explanations for how poutine got its name. Some say the word comes from the French word for pudding, pouding. In Quebec, the word poutine is used as slang for a mess. Not only is Canada’s national dish delicious, but it offers up a sneaky way to insult non-Canadians. He doesn’t like poutine? He’s a poutine!
🔎 Where to get poutine Ottawa: Burgers n’ Fries Forever (duh). Check out 329 Bank Street or 278 Dalhousie Street.
Czech Republic: Smažený Sýr
Smažený sýr translates to fried cheese. No veggies left in your fridge? Perf! To make this dish you just need to bread a thick slice of cheese, deep fry it, and serve it with some tartar sauce. Add some french fries on the side if you’re feeling fancy and–say cheese! Not a good source of fiber, but 100% daily value of mouth-watering.
Smažený sýr is sometimes served in a bun to make a crispy and satisfying burger, which we know a thing or two about. It’s a popular street food– think elevated mozz sticks– but it’s also common at pubs and high-end spots throughout the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
🔎 Where to get Smažený Sýr in Ottawa: Comment if you know a place that serves up this savory dream in Ottawa. Otherwise, it might just be worth a road trip to Toronto to Country Style Hungarian Restaurant at 450 Bloor St W
Nigeria: Puff-Puff (Deep-Fried Dough)
Close your eyes and imagine the deeply satisfying sizzle of food hitting oil. Now, inhale the smell of fried dough. No, you’re not at a baseball game, you're about to eat some Nigerian puff-puffs.
These pillowy dough balls are fried until they’re golden brown. Next, roll ‘em in powdered sugar, and/or other spices like cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg. Variations on the puff-puff are popular in neighboring countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Cameroon.
Wherever you are though, we recommend frying up some puff-puffs, pouring yourself a coffee…and pushing the limits of your lunch break.
🔎 Where to get puff-puff in Ottawa: You can get this and other Nigerian delights delivered from Mills Kitchen
In Persian, Tahdig means “bottom of the pot”, which is actually a good thing if you’ll believe it. The legend goes that the dish was created when the inattentive chef of a Persian King left the rice on too long. Panicked, he scraped the rice from the bottom of the pot, added spices, veggies, and fruits to make it edible. The dish was a success.
To make your own caramelized rice, coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with oil, and get distracted. Kidding, but it is a straightforward weeknight meal. Add saffron, turmeric, and veggies and feed yourself like a king/queen.
🔎 Where to get tahdig in Ottawa: Visit the Silk Road Kabab House at 1021 Cyrville Rd, Unit 7
Japan: Katsu don
Katsu don combines two Japanese words: tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and donburi (rice bowl). So, yes, it’s a bowl of rice topped with panko-breaded pork cutlet, eggs, vegetables, and scallions. The key to katsu don is the sweet and savory sauce you cook the meat in: a combination of dashi or chicken stock, sugar, soy sauce, and mirin.
Katsu is a homophone of katsu (“to win”), and it’s a modern tradition for Japanese students to have a bowl before taking an exam. We’re not saying that you can justify having it a few times a week by saying it’s good luck, but we’re also not, not saying that.
🔎 Where to get katsudon in Ottawa: Check out Kuidaore at 420 Preston St
Congee is rice porridge or gruel. Boil rice until it softens in a pot or rice cooker. Enjoy it with side dishes like youtiao (salted fried dough) or pickled tofu. Or, with ingredients mixed in like meat, fish, and seasonings.
Rice porridge is one of those foods that seems as ancient as all adults when you’re still a kid. Records show that it was first popularized during times of famine because it allowed people to make their rice supplies go farther.
While we admit that this might not sound like the most indulgent of comfort foods, after eating a bunch of the other things on this list, it might be just what the doctor ordered.
🔎 Where to get congee in Ottawa: Warm your soul at Cafe Orient at 808 Somerset St W
From Canadian poutine to Chinese congee, there is no one definition of comfort food. But, whatever your fave option is, it will bring you joy and fill that belly. We’ll leave you with a quote from George Bernard Shaw: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” (Word of advice, don’t quote it to your loved ones).
BFF isn’t your typical burger n’ fries joint. Our food helps to remove barriers and unite people from different backgrounds over memorable and nostalgic flavors. With quality ingredients and creative combos, we aim to be your (tastebuds’) BFF.
Stop by one of our locations in Toronto or Ottawa. Tag us in pics of your fave BFF foods @burgersnfriesforever.