Summertime, And The Eatin’ is Tasty

June 17th, 2011 by Emma Durand-Wood

The weather has been pretty hit or miss the last few days, but summer is apparently on its way to Manitoba!  Over the last few weeks I’ve been enviously reading various Peggers’ tweets about their first few trips to the lake of the season, and they often involve what meals they’re making. This got me to thinking about some edibles that I’ve come to associate with Manitoba, and specifically, summertime in our lovely province.

Bag Tacos

I first heard about bag tacos from a teacher friend of mine whose students are big on these sinfully delicious yet junky “salads”. Basically, you take a bag of Doritos, crush them up a bit, and add taco meat, veggies, salsa, sour cream, etc.. Shake it up, and voila, a self-contained, no-plates-required meal. I didn’t think they were a particularly Manitoban thing (my sister said she’s heard folks in California call them “walking tacos”) until I read a post by Kath at Food Musings, who talked about tacos in a bag and said a friend of hers got the idea from attending pow wows around the province. And then! I saw them on the menu at Sub Zero Ice Cream, so in my mind, they’re now associated.

Campfire Pie

When we’re at my husband’s aunt’s cottage, once the sun goes down and the fire is in full swing, it’s campfire pie time! A campfire pie is basically a toasted sandwich made in a special iron – but it’s the pie filling inside that makes it such a treat. Campfire pie is such a beloved part of the family that it was actually mentioned in a relative’s obituary.


I do believe the only fish I’ve ever caught in my life was a pickerel. I was probably 10 or so, and my granddad took me fishing during a visit to their house in Lac du Bonnet. My grandma cleaned it up, pan-fried it, and I ate it proudly. Ah, the tasty pickerel, also known as the walleye.  For our honeymoon, my husband and I spent a few days at the (now defunct?) Radisson Hecla Oasis Resort, and I must have had pickerel at every meal. Pickerel is one of the few readily available local fish here in our landlocked province, and you often see it featured as food fit for a 100-mile diet. When Little Gray Bird pointed to pickerel cheeks as a Manitoba delicacy, I knew I had to add it to the list. I recommend the pickerel fish and chips at Lobby on York. Mmm…


Before I moved here, the standard nothing-fancy beer was what I now think of as Alberta Pilsner (usually referred to as “Pil”, but actually called “Old-Style Pilsner”). But when it comes to curling or lakeside lounging, the beer around here is OV (Old Vienna).  I’d never heard of it before, and to be honest, it really is nothing special. Cheap, but not suspiciously cheap. It has a reputation for the kind of beer that old men drink. In fact, I once saw it listed as the special for “Drink your dad’s beer” night at Boston Pizza. Now, Manitoba does have lots of excellent locally-made beers (Half Pints, Fort Garry), and they’re special in the same way that Big Rock is an Alberta classic and Granville Island (and Steamworks… salivate…) are musts in BC. But call me crazy — when I think of Manitoba’s signature, no-frills beer, I think of OV. (I suspect this is completely due to my in-laws!)

Again, I know these items are far from unique to Manitoba, but they remind me of our gorgeous summers. We just got an invitation to the lake — with any luck, I just may sample all these scrumptious things in one day!

What tastes like summer in Manitoba to you?

9 Responses to “Summertime, And The Eatin’ is Tasty”

  1. Karen says:

    Great post, again, Emma! OV is indeed my father-in-laws beer and therefore, the family drink. You nailed that one!
    For me, it’s mini donuts, though, that taste like summer in Manitoba. These used to only be available at summer fairs and in the result, the smell always takes me back to happy times!

  2. Emma says:

    Ha!! I’m glad it’s not just my weird family 🙂 Mini-doughnuts – good one. They definitely remind me of summer fairs, too. Thanks for sharing!

  3. pj says:

    those little tiny MB strawberries that taste a million times better than the rest of the year strawberries. once they arrive, i know summer is here….
    also going for gelati on corydon and eating those pork on a bun burgers from st. norberts farmer’s market.

  4. Honeybee says:

    Okay, this is the first time I’m hearing of bag tacos… another “Winnipeg thing” I’ll have to try, perhaps?

    One of my favourite things last summer was going to St. Norbert’s market… never had pork on a bun like PJ, but I DID have the fantastic (and quick-to-sell-out) perogies. I never knew they could taste so good… definitely an eye-opening experience! Oh, and the fresh-squeezed lemonade. Delish.

  5. I associate summer in Manitoba with ham-garlic sausage. I had never tried it until moving to Manitoba as it is not very popular in the east coast but it is delicious. A few years ago I attended a Manitoba firepit night and we were instructed to slice it it up and roast it over the fire. So good. Reminded me a bit of deep fried pepperoni from Nova Scotia. I also associate summer in Manitoba with Rigby Orchards Estates Raspberry Wine – which is pretty tasty and made in Manitoba. My Manitoba friend and I drink it every summer.

  6. Emma says:

    @littlegraybird Mmm, I’ve been meaning to try that raspberry wine – it looks delish and perfect for summer. Thanks for reminding me!
    @Honeybee I love the lemonade at the farmer’s market, too!
    @Cherenkov I’m a huge popcorn lover – so thanks to this suggestion I will be putting Jiffy Pop on my lake groceries shopping list 🙂
    @PJ My mouth is watering just thinking of tiny wild strawberries… so wonderful!

  7. Pickerel…mmm.
    Saskatoon berry bushes also remind me of MB. I love nothing more than a handful o’ saskatoons in my morning cereal bowl!

  8. […] Okay, one last thing. My beloved Frigs Natural Meats has had a bit of a facelift in recent weeks. They’ve expanded their grocery section and improved the layout of the store – it’s better than ever and always worth the drive. Their kubi smokies are one key component of the insanely delicious concoction I indulge in once a year at the lake: the Pizza Pop Dog (a grilled kubi dog stuffed inside a barbequed pizza pop. 100% evil genius!). Mmm, lake food. […]

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