British Columbia food is pretty much what you can find anywhere in the United States. There are elegant gourmet British Columbia dining spots in the sophisticated and cosmopolitan cities of Vancouver and Victoria, as well as in luxury resorts in the countryside of the Okanagan Valley. You can find cheap fast food in BC Canada at some of the same franchises you will find in the United States and even Europe, and there are good family restaurants everywhere.
There are several things that do set British Columbia food apart from food found everywhere else. There is a huge influence from Asia here, making Pacific Rim cuisine readily available and authentic. Since the coast provides some of the best saltwater fishing and the rivers some of the best freshwater fishing in the world, you will find an abundance of fresh seafood, including the crown jewel of Northwest fish—the salmon. If you are on fishing vacations, you can enjoy British Columbia dining on your own catch, even if you are staying in remote wilderness areas around Prince Rupert, as the chefs at many fishing lodges and camps are happy to clean and prepare the trophy you bring in. If you head down to the docks on Vancouver Island at the right time of day, you will undoubtedly see the chefs from restaurants around the area meeting the fishing boats as they come in.
Additionally, the produce and food in BC Canada is famously local and fresh. There is little that is exotic about the fruits and vegetables grown here, but the concept of "terroir" (from the French word for land) is important and cooks are quite particular about the source of their fish, beef, and even vegetables, often listing exactly which farm or orchard produced the fruits and vegetables on the menu, which of the province's many wineries cultivated and produced your wine, and even which fishing concern caught your fish. British Columbia dining is the perfect way to enjoy this wonderful local and fresh experience.
A major part of the history of British Columbia lies with the rich heritage and culture of the First Nations indigenous peoples. The tradition of potlatch (a Pacific Northwest Native American feast) is replicated by many of the Native communities, who will generally hold at least one of the events open to the public each year. No food in BC Canada is more authentic than fresh caught salmon baked on a cedar plank in the original way. Look for festivals and feasts on the Queen Charlotte Islands, in Surrey, or the Kamloops Indian Powwow held in August.
The lower Fraser River Valley around Abbotsford and the Okanagan Valley from Vernon in the north to Penticton in the south provide the richest agricultural land in the province. These areas are dotted with specialty farms and orchards, wineries and vineyards. Fresh local British Columbia food from these areas fill the tables of most restaurants. The small markets and larger grocery stores also stock local produce and fish, so you can enjoy them even if you're cooking for yourself in vacation rentals
Image: Rob Melnychuk