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My history with this country started at twelve years old, when my parents sent me to an athletic summer swim camp for two summers in a row. Although I had a great time, and enjoyed much of the outdoors, my exposure to the cuisine was extremely limited. I will say however that I befriended the camp cook and gathered wild blueberries for him to make pies for us to share on the down low. Years later, I would return to the friendly forested country multiple times to enjoy the local delicacies, beautiful cities, bustling night scene, and of course the majestic nature. On our last trip there we went to Montreal, which had the feeling of a European city, and had a unique culinary identity. In the old town with cobblestone streets and famous restaurants there is an emphasis on local seafood and meats, fresh quality, and transparency of ingredients. You will find many desserts made with maple syrup, unique bagels that rival those of NYC but are completely different, wild game, and poutine-a-plenty. People here are known to be friendly, and that is a stereotype that I can get behind. They also say "Ay" a lot after everything with an annoying up-speak tone that is less irritating than silicon valley but similar in cadence. Although suspicious of Americans because of our loud voices, political affiliation with Donald Trump (Some Canadian cities are ultra liberal), general obnoxious behavior, and misbehaved overweight children, they at least pretend to be polite and will give you accurate directions. There is also a strong French influence here, and in some cities French is the most spoken language because of historical ties to past colonialism. Overall, when you are in Canada you feel very safe, as gun violence and other acts of terrorism are very low compared to the U.S. This is partly do to the low population density outside of the cities where you can find huge lakes, vast swaths of snowy forest populated with Elk and other large game (delicious), and a whole lot of nothing else. There is a unique food culture that exists in these areas, where hunters will prepare wild game with blood and chocolate sauce, and for dessert boiling hot maple syrup drizzled over snow to create the most delicious taffy. Whenever I am in this country I instantly feel transported somewhere far away from the U.S. even though it is just over the border. I will continue to visit here at least once a year.

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