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Bagels
First-time visitors to Montreal may be surprised that Montreal bagels, the smallish, chewy and slightly sweet doughnut-shaped bread, are considered by many to be vastly superior to their puffy, moist and salty New York cousins, a passionate rivalry that leads to trash talk on both sides of the border.

This light and crusty  breakfast staple was introduced by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who settled in Montreal before and after World War II. “The main difference is we don’t use technology,” said Vince Morena, owner of St Viateur Bagel. His bakery and the Original Fairmount Bagel Bakery are the "temples" in current day Montreal. Both establishments hand-roll the dough, boil it in honey water and bake it in wood-burning ovens. Among Montrealers, there is even heated debate as to which produces the best bagel. “There’s not much of a difference to be honest,” Morena said. “There is a small variation in the recipes, but both use the same process.” Regardless of where you shop, “the true Montreal bagel experience is to eat one right out of the oven,” he said. “So come hungry.” Both are open 24 hours a day, every day, year round.

Pâté Chinois
This Quebecois version of shepherd’s pie is made with layers of ground beef, mashed potatoes and a can of creamed corn in the middle. It started out as a working class food but today everybody eats it. Urban myth holds that it was first made by Chinese cooks during the building of the railroad, but Poiré said it has never been proven. The dish “is almost too rustic” to find in restaurants, LeGroulx said. “It’s even below hot dogs.” But once a year, in early autumn, Au Pied de Cochon makes a sophisticated version: potato purée with roasted garlic and cheese curds on top, creamed corn in the middle and braised pork and buffalo at the bottom, cooked in a wood oven.

 

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