Thursday 18 June 2015

Canada's Fried Dough: BeaverTails

Why is it that everything deep-fried tastes so darn good? Damn be the calories. Let's take dollops of gooey dough dropped into hot oil, deep-fried to golden deliciousness, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served warm, for example. How yummy does that sound?

Sometime ago I read that every nationality has its own version of fried dough. I believe this to be true. Sadly, I've not tasted every single version (not by lack of trying). 

New Orleans has beignets; Spain has churros; Italy has zeppole; Portugal has malasadas; Canada has, well, we have BeaverTails (Queues de Castor in French).

So, what exactly is a BeaverTail? A true Canadian culinary treat, that's for certain! They are batches of dough that are stretched by hand to resemble the tail of a beaver. Then these deliciously addictive, traditional whole-wheat pastries are deep-fried in canola oil, served piping hot, drizzled with butter and your choice of toppings.

The current BeaverTail evolved from a family recipe passed down through at least three generations and is similar to a yeasted, crack-wheat treat enjoyed in early Canadian and American farms. The first commercially produced BeaverTail was sold in 1978. The first storefront opened in June 1980, in Ottawa’s Byward market, one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets.

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In February of 1981, BeaverTails made their first appearance along Ottawa’s most famous winter attraction and the longest skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal Skateway. Today, skating on the canal and enjoying a BeaverTail, go hand in hand. These warm, delicious, crispy treats are so popular along the canal, that even on the coldest of Canadian winter days, the lineups can be lengthy. Be prepared to wait. It will be worth it.

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Through the years a variety of toppings have been developed to further enhance the sinful indulgence to the BeaverTail experience. Add Oreo cookie crumble sprinkled on top of vanilla icing, drizzled with chocolate sauce or banana slices layered over a thick coat of hazelnut spread. My favourite topping is still The Classic: cinnamon and sugar. With this topping, the crispiness of the pastry is maintained. Why mess with perfection, I say

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On February 19, 2009 BeaverTails made international headlines when President Barack Obama, on his first official visit to Canada, dropped into Byward Market with the sole purpose of indulging in this iconic pastry. President Obama’s visit was later dubbed, The BeaverTail Summit.

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You know you're famous when:
  • The Barenaked Ladies change the lyrics of their song, “If I Had A Million Dollars” to “If I Had A Million Beavertails” during a music festival.
  • A question about BeaverTails makes it into the Canadian version of Trivial Pursuit.
  • “What is a BeaverTail?” is the answer to a Jeopardy question, the US-television show hosted by Canadian born, Alex Trebek.
  • During an interview with the Globe and Mail, Canadian singer song-writer, Bryan Adams, states that his most Canadian trait is his ability to differentiate a BeaverTail from a Tim Horton’s Timbit.

Now, that’s Canadian.

Other Fun Facts:
  • BeaverTails uses 21.1 tons of chocolate hazelnut spread per year. That’s the equivalent weight of five elephants and twelve beavers.
  • Since BeaverTails’ debut in 1978, enough BeaverTails have been sold to make a straight line of tails, end-to-end, from the BeaverTails store in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, to the store in Whistler, British Columbia.
  • Since 1981 more than 8,000 young Canadians have worked at the BeaverTails operations in the Ottawa stores alone.

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