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Food and Drink

What’s eaten where: Prince Edward Island

Colville Bay, Malpeque, and Raspberry Point oysters at Dayboat

One of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, Prince Edward Island – like Cyprus – has a bit of everything: rolling hills, ancient forests, pastoral soils, and white sand beaches. Residents enjoy what is euphemistically described as a ‘changeable climate’ (i.e. rain, wind, snow, long winters and brief summers).

But you don’t need sunshine for a good time, and Prince Edward Island has other notable claims to fame.

The smallest and yet most densely populated province of Canada, it’s the setting for Anne of Green Gables, and was named by the Brits for Queen Victoria’s father.

In the original language of the First Nations Mi’kmaq, the region is called Abegweit or Epekwitk – which roughly translates as ‘the land cradled in the waves’. So you’d expect the majority of the produce to be fishy.

But interestingly, there’s far more than one string to PEI’s gastronomic bow…

Thanks to all that bucolic idyll, the province is also known as ‘Spud Island’. 80,000 acres of potatoes are planted each year, and the region is home to the Canadian Potato Museum. Agriculture is a pretty serious industry here, and everything from dairy to fruit and veg is lauded as ‘fresh, clean and green’; Canada’s most gourmet region, the island is frequently marketed as a food tourism destination, with festivals celebrating the agricultural produce all year round.

To drink, it’s excellent craft beers and handcrafted gins, along with local pastis and wild blueberry vodka – made, of course, from the island’s infamous potatoes. But, despite the spuds, the province’s most official unofficial dish has to be oysters…

Shellfish is a mainstay of any dinner table, and lobster a real favourite. Steamed, boiled, added to casseroles, chowders and salads, this delicious crustacean is said to be sweeter and meatier in spring and more tender in autumn. But it’s oysters that are the real dish of the day here on PEI, appearing deep-fried, in pies, scalloped, or in soufflés, soups and stews. Oyster farming on the island is akin to an art form – with the intriguingly-named Little Willy’s and Savage Blonde varieties prized worldwide.

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