Nothing beats a generous helping of gooey macaroni and cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food—KD, obviously, being the king of that cheesy castle. Though our love affair with pasta and cheese is more popular than ever, the original recipe for this special dish was created over one hundred years ago. Served in a puff pastry shell and topped with imported Parmesan cheese, it was a meal enjoyed only during formal occasions.
With the start of World War I in 1914, the Canadian government encouraged food rations to support the war effort abroad. As ingredient substitutes for high-demand items like wheat, dairy and meat became increasingly encouraged, Canadians got creative with their food. Macaroni and cheese was simplified, swapping Parmesan for local cheddar to be baked inside of a ceramic dish instead of its pastry predecessor.
For a sweeter treat, the quintessentially Canadian butter tart would be made with whatever ingredients the cooks had on hand, including dried fruit, nuts or sticking to the classic (and delicious) brown sugar filling.
Though the Canadian diet may vary throughout the provinces, these wartime dishes remain national favourites nearly a century after Allied victory was declared. Try these traditional recipes out for a glimpse into classic Canadian flavours and the history and heritage that helped shape them. Pretty delicious, eh?