Stuff your face with potatoes & seafood in PEI, Canada. Adventure Travel Canada!
Updated: Mar 14, 2019
Travellers always search for unspoiled locales, places that are today what they’ve ever been, resisting broader changes that sweep modernity. That’s why sites looking for tourist dollars paint themselves as original and un-gentrified destinations. Authenticity is important, so they fake it.
But Prince Edward Island… Oh My! There’s nothing fake about PEI! There just isn’t another place like it. Descriptions, articles all fail. Even this one! Only being there is enough.
Even the Irish are in awe about the reverence PEI has for the potato. It’s a humble, basic food item. Right? No. There is something about a PEI potato that puts it in another league. No gimmicks. It’s not stuffed with fancy toppings or trends. Something about the environmental conditions of this place come together and create a potato you just haven’t eaten the likes of ever before. It’s the freshness. There’s a magic that defies description. Writing about it fails, so does reading about it. Just get there, eat it.
And when the time is right… there are New Potatoes. A local will show you an unmarked stand at the side of the road, or you’ll see one of the many driving around, and you just fry it up with some butter and salt when cooking it, and voila. Magic. Also, since you are a backpacker, you will likely be staying in the awesome Charlottetown Backpackers, and they are known to always have bags of free potatoes for their guests!
But don’t just eat the potatoes, there’s a museum about them too. It’s called The Canadian Potato Museum. No joke, they take this food seriously. But it’s also a fun and kooky place for a stroll. It is a “Top 11 food museum in the world”. The folks there are so nice, just kindly let the ticket lady know that you and your fellow backpackers are on a strict budget, and are now family!
But potato is not the only food. Oh, the oysters! The world is filled with ancient legends, from Arthurian Knights to Biblical deluge myths and countless others: Malpeque oysters rival these immortal legends. Children hear the ancient lore from their grandparents, about these succulent, succulent oysters. Eat and shuck your own over here. They ship ‘em around the world, but nothing equals eating them on site. Try the upscale Malpeque Oyster Barn as a rare monthly treat.
The famous fried bologna at Irving’s Big Stop’s...it’s worth eating, I guess! It’s a part of life here, and no disrespect intended. Cool and quirky thing to try and observe. Diners attached to gas stations, or separate are all around, and the fried bologni is a celebrated side to meals, or just plainly as an appetizer. Simple, inexpensive. But realistically it isn’t this food that’s going to change your life. You’ll just get a local experience that you might realize why it hasn’t gone mainstream.
But the lobster. Do not forget about the lobster! The ocean is loaded with these aggressively succulent, delicious creatures. There are different ways to eat ‘em, and no way is wrong. Sit at a table for a more formal meal, with mussels and scallops of equal quality. Often seafood is associated with expensive and fancy Fine Dining, often correctly, but here it’s not pretentious, and the prices are cheap too. Relatively cheap, not backpacker cheap. Save for this event and splurge. A great spot is the famous New Glasgow Lobster Supper with unlimited mussels that will also tickle your fancy - like it has for many since 1958 - just go!
Or eat a casual roll. A lobster on a bun with at most mayo, lemon, diced celery and maybe pepper. No gimmicks, just goodness. You can even bring lobsters home with you. People fly from PEI back to wherever they’re from, their overhead storage loaded with lobster. It’s tradition, there are people who have done it for decades. Another cool seafood experience is trawling the beaches yourself, looking for clams. They’re not hard to find, and they’re tasty. Have a local give you the tools and explain the rules.
Nova Scotians claim their seafood is better. They have a case! They aren’t lunatics for saying it, they know their way around the sea over there, too. One of those rivalries that makes winners of everybody.
Relatively new to the island is the Gahan House blueberry ale. Beer, for the layman. It doesn’t need much more explaining--the blueberry beer tastes like blueberries and beer. Good stuff. Straightforward. Blueberries grow all over the island. You can pick them freely and eat ‘em off the bush. This distillery takes the fruits of the land and makes beer out of it. Smart. They also have lots of other beers which you can buy to go, enjoy at the restaurant, or sip on while taking a brewery tour!
PEI is a warm, unique place. It’d be an unforgettable visit if all there was to eat was dog food. Likewise, even if the island was a barren hellhole it’d be worth visiting for the food.
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