As I travelled from Toronto to Vancouver on board The Canadian, I told my fellow passengers I was breaking my journey in Winnipeg. Their response was not what I was expecting and even a little disconcerting: ‘You’re stopping in Winter Peg? Really? Why?’ was the common reply, and I was torn between feeling unsettled as well as wanting to champion the underdog of Canadian cities before I’d even been there!
But my fears were totally unfounded, and on alighting the train in Winnipeg one hot and sunny September morning I was met with a beautiful, elegant and historical city, with its four major rivers (the Red, Assiniboine, La Salle and Seine) influencing the city’s layout and architecture. As soon as I checked into my hotel I set off to explore this fascinating city and its food scene.
The first stop on my foodie journey of the city was The Forks. So-called because of its position where the Assiniboine River flows into the Red River, it has a rich history of early Aboriginal settlement and is now a very pleasant area with a large market and small shops. Fascinatingly I learned that it’s been a meeting place for over 6,000 years; early Aboriginal Peoples traded at The Forks, followed by European fur traders, Métis buffalo hunters, Scottish settlers, riverboat workers, railway pioneers and tens of thousands of immigrants – all of which had an affect on the cuisine of the area.
I wandered into the covered market where I planned to buy lunch, and found the choice on offer amazing – from Italian pizzas, Ukrainian pierogis, Sri Lankan curries to Swedish breads and even British fish and chips, the market had a myriad of different global cuisines to choose from all with an assortment of sit down cafés, small restaurants, takeaway stands and stalls. I was spoilt for choice.