While it is customary in Canada to eat a meal seated and in a relaxing, sheltered (or indoor) environment, there are some exceptions. In a country where winter makes eating outdoors impossible for more than half the year, people often take their meals, especially lunch, outside to any nearby green space, a park or beach, in the warmer weather. Outdoor eating becomes more festive in the summer months. Outdoor foods at civic celebrations are common in many Canadian cities.
Street Food Vendors
In urban areas, you may see food vendors selling from carts or trucks, especially designed to serve fast food to outdoor clients. People may eat “on the run” or on public transit if they are rushed. Although this is not considered constructive for personal health nor public hygiene, it is witnessed more and more in urban areas.
Outdoor patios and decks
You will often see that restaurants have an outdoor section, a patio, a sidewalk area or deck attached to the restaurant. Some homes also have decks and patios which are used in the warmer months for preparing and consuming outdoor meals. Newer homes are equipped with outdoor dining areas and built-in outdoor cooking facilities.
A picnic is an outing or occasion that involves taking a packed meal to be eaten outdoors, often at the beach or in a park. Picnics are a favourite family activity and have a long history in North American folklore.
BBQ or barbeque [Bar-B-Q, Bar-B-Que, or Bar-B-Cue], a name borrowed from Caribbean culture, was applied to the grilling of meat over a wood or charcoal fire. There are many regional variations of BBQ. It is often associated with giving food a smokey flavour. Today, BBQ techniques are applied to vegetables such as corn and peppers. Grilled corn with lime juice and spices is a popular street food borrowed from India and available in Canada’s larger cities.
Cooking Outdoors: check the municipal By-Laws
While outdoor cooking is often seen in parks, on beaches and in private yards, there are local regulations regarding the use of fire in public spaces. Street food vendors are governed by these laws as well.
Campfires, incinerators, fire pits, fire bowls, burn drums, chimeneas, wood fuelled barbeques and outdoor wood fireplaces may be banned in certain areas. Check local by-laws.
Some cities ban the use of barbeques or grills of any kind on apartment balconies. Check with the local Fire Department to be sure.