A City of Food

By Social Media Ambassador, John Connelly (Game Programming ’21).

Poutine at La Banquise

Montreal is a bustling city, and each day leads to tons of new activities and events to go to.  From live shows, to interactive art exhibits, to our own school hosted events such as botanical light shows and improv sessions.  While all of those activities have been a blast, there is one activity that has me ecstatic no matter the time of day or occasion.  Eating food. Now when I say eating food, I don’t mean waking up and groggily pouring some milk into a bowl of Frosted flakes, I mean going out to experience as many different and unique foods that Montreal has to offer.  There is such a rich culture in Montreal, from Chinatown’s abundant Asian cuisines to Little Italy’s massive farmers market where you can get an astonishing amount of locally produced goods. It would be a shame to come here for a study abroad semester and not try a little bit of everything.

Step one to doing this is participate in events!  The Montreal campus staff do events every month, and there are events with cool new foods sprinkled in there every once in a while, especially at the start of the semester.  Go to every single one, you’ll be able to have food for free, including foods like dim sum, shawarma, and obviously poutine. Food is really good, but everyone knows that guiltless free food is all the more tasty.  In addition to faculty hosted events, RAs will do events that may involve food, including the ever so competitive pizza party for the housing group with the faster travel form submission. Another great opportunity is the Ottawa trip,  since you are given a chance to explore yet another new city, which most likely has not only a different food culture from Burlington but also Montreal. 

Schwartz Smoked Meat

Additionally, going out with friends is always fun.  Keep in mind that while it is a bit pricier than cooking your own meals, that this could be your last time in Montreal for at least a year(depending on whether you go to MIGS) so know that this is more than paying for a meal, you are also paying for memory and experience in another city.  I recommend going to Chinatown if you want a cheap meal, since there are many types of food and cultures there. Additionally, Lebanese food is very abundant in Montreal, so definitely try going anywhere there. If you’d like to try a new type of sandwich, there is a Vietnamese sandwich place in Berri-Uqam that is very well priced.  Another staple of Montreal is smoked meat, and Schwarz’s Deli is the place to go if you ever considered having some, their sandwiches are magnificent. Montreal bagels are very different from American bagels, so feel free to give them a try, Montrealers swear by them, just know that there is no such thing as a plain bagel, all of their bagels have either sesame seeds or poppy seeds on them.  If bagels aren’t your thing, Montreal is in French-Canada, so you’ll find yourself surrounded on all ends by endless French cafes with great croissants, so make sure you look around to find which one you like the best.

Going out is fun and all, but keep in mind that it might not be financially ideal to eat out every night to experience Montreal cuisine.  Not to worry though, because grocery stores in Montreal carry food that people in Montreal would cook with to make Montreal meals. For example, even though it probably wouldn’t be quite as nice as making the gravy yourself, super markets sell french fries, cheese curds, and special poutine gravy.  If you ever wanted to try your hand at making poutine yourself, it could be as easy as mixing all those three ingredients together. Most grocery stores also carry tomato cake, which is a pretty fantastic Montreal staple and one of my personal favourites. There’s also crackers and pâté for those who want something more Canadian, since most grocery stores here have an entire section for pâté.

Finally if mainstream grocery stores aren’t up your alley, there’s always the multiple outdoor markets such as Jean-Talon Market that have fresh, locally grown produce right from the earth of Montreal.  It doesn’t get more Canadian than that, so be sure to try out the various products made here in Montreal. As a French-Canadian city, they have a truly fantastic selection of cheeses which I would totally recommend trying for yourself.  If you are more interested in baked goods, another Canadian treat is maple syrup pie, which is as sweet as you would expect, and the best ones still maintain the crispness of regular pie.

Montreal is far bigger than Burlington, so many more avenues of activity are opened up by coming here.  Whether you like to walk along the water, shop at the markets and underground malls, or visit studios to talk to industry professionals, the common factor in each day you spend here is that you need to eat.  So don’t be afraid to experiment.