Several weeks ago, I came across an discussion in an online forum entitled “you know what a churro is?” A churro is a fried-dough pastry that originated in Spain and Latin America and has been imported into North America. It is sometimes referred to as a Spanish or Mexican doughnut. While a good number of participants in the online discussion were familiar with churros, one participant identified other fried dough pastries: French beignets, Italian zeppole, American elephant ears and Canadian beavertails.
What is a beavertail? The following what a Montreal native has to say:
Man, a Beaver tail is a Canadian food staple.
It’s a piece of fried dough that comes with a wide array of toppings. Such as (but not limited to): The classic cinnamon-sugar, cinnamon-sugar with lemon, Nutella, chocolate banana and so forth.
It’s kind of a winter time thing.
According to wikipedia, beavertails bear the name of the Canadian trademark for the chain of eateries that specialize in making them. The eateries were founded in Ottawa in 1978. Beavertails’ success may be due to the winter festival time with which they are so often associated: Winterlude.
Winterlude is a winter festival that is celebrated in the National Capital Region, Ottawa and Gatineau, for three weeks every February. It was started in 1979 by the National Capital Commission and, according to Wikipedia, it attracted an estimated 1.6 million visits in 2007. Winterlude attractions include an ice sculpture competition, a playground made of snow, and, of course, the largest (formerly longest) skating rink in the world: an iced over Rideau canal.
Winterlude’s mascots are called the “Ice Hogs.” Its traditional food is the beavertail. Other food-related events include a food and wine tastings in several restaurants, which act as ‘official restaurants.’ This year (2008), Winterlude held a Walkabout Winter Feast, which consisted of a five-course, wine-paired, meal at five Ottawa restaurants with a sommelier guide
The Rideau Canal Skateway hosts several food catering kiosks on the ice. They are usually situated next to skate changing shacks and ice sled rentals. Here are pics from my better half, one of her former roommates, and my visiting this year’s Winterlude.
Indeed beaver tails come in several flavours, but my favourite is the classic cinnamon and sugar. I don’t know what it is about this sugar crusted fried dough pastry, but the beaver tail is to me the perfect winter snack. Maybe it’s the grains of sugar that you crunch with your back teeth after every bite. Maybe it’s the thickeness and crispy texture. Whatever the case, the best way to enjoy beaver tails is to eat them outdoors preferably on the Rideau Skateway and after a couple hours skating.