When students from around the world come to study at Queen’s on exchange, they learn more than just the lyrics to the Oil Thigh and Drake’s songs — they also pick up on some of our eating habits. We asked exchange students what they really thought about Kingston food, and here’s what they had to say:
“Hate it. It’s so slimy!”
It may come as a surprise to some die-hard poutine fans, but not everyone shares our love for these gravy-smothered, cheese-covered, heart-clogging fries.
“It’s disgusting. Probably the fattiest and saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted.”
“I was told I had to try poutine because it was supposedly this amazing Canadian food, and when I did I was shocked at how bad it was.”
“It’s a heart attack waiting to happen.”
So it’s bad for you, that’s fair. But what about after a night out at Stage Rage when your inhibitions are long gone and all you crave is something with enough calories to fill you with regret to last the entire week?
For most of us, grabbing a Smoke’s poutine has become a post-bar ritual:
“Your night isn’t over unless you get Smoke’s — it’s tradition.”
“Smoke’s! Every single damn time. Double pork, all the way.”
“I feel gross after, but I always get it anyway.”
“Shit. Absolute shit.”
This was a common opinion. When asked about how it compares to pizza back home:
“The bread is way too thick. It should be a thinner crust.”
“There’s too much cheese! It feels so unhealthy.”
“In France, the pizza is so much better. It’s more sophisticated and elaborate.”
“There’s way more meat on pizza here. They even have a ‘meat lovers’ one which I found quite hilarious.”
(PS — If you think meat lovers is hilarious, check out this poutine pizza. Talk about fine Canadian cuisine.)
There were a few that thought Pizza Pizza was better than pizza back home, but when asked why: “more fat.”
Of course we do have fancier pizza in Kingston (shout out to Woodenheads), but the affordable student pizza places here weren’t rated as well as those back home. This is probably because the typical 1 am “drunk” pizza shops aren’t really a thing there:
“At home we don’t really order pizza, we get them frozen from the supermarket which is a bazillion times cheaper.“
“I always think it’s funny to see the amount of pizza boxes in student’s recycling bins. We don’t have that at home.”
“You can’t actually get pizza after a night out in Sweden, you only get kebabs.”
Other Favourite Spots
So where do the students who are disgusted with both Smoke’s and Pizza Pizza go to satisfy their drunken cravings?
“Dim sum is underrated, it’s really good and usually you get enough food to save some for the next day.”
As for favourite dinner spots, The Works was a popular one:
“They make crazy burgers there. It’s over the top but they taste good and it’s a fun experience.”
“SO good, but so bad.”
This seems to be the recurring theme of a lot of student food here.
They were also impressed with the sushi restaurants around campus:
“There’s a sushi place every two blocks, which is really surprising.”
“The sushi is really good here, especially Jina, but you get too much of it.”
Too much sushi — is that even possible?
Tim Horton’s Coffee
Harsh. But this was the opinion almost across the board.
“Very light compared to most European countries.”
“Tastes like water.”
Every European (and even one Japanese student) said that the coffee was nasty compared to their own. In all fairness, they tend to be a little more hard-core when it coms to coffee — most of their go-to drinks are a “double espresso at Starbucks,” so it makes sense they’re not too keen on Tim’s.
One even noted that “If I have a large coffee of theirs, I will be feeling nauseous for hours to come.”
At the same time, a lot of those who said the coffee was bad said they still like Tim Hortons in general:
“The ice capp is my obsession. Definitely going to miss that when I go home.”
“The coffee is bad, but I love their Timbits!”
“You have to get coffee there at least once just because it’s so Canadian.”
And the most flattering reply from someone who just said how disgusting the coffee was:
“I would give my life if it meant that Tim Hortons would continue to exist.”
Exchange student’s verdict on grocery stores: wildly expensive.
“Metro yes. But even Food Basics.”
“Meat, dairy, and cheese is more expensive, but mostly much less good in quality. Good cheese is what I missed so very much.”
“I spent $6 on grapes once which was quite a shock!”
“Everything costs so much. I’m using all my spending money here on basic food.”
“Especially fruit and vegetables…and nuts!”
A lot of them were also frustrated at how far all the grocery stores were from each other:
“It’s really annoying to have to carry your grocery bags on the bus every time.”
“In the Netherlands there’s one walking distance everywhere.”
But these not-so-great points couldn’y compare to all the other great parts about Canadian food stores and restaurants. As one student summed it up:
“If you quote me, please note – I had a HELLA GREAT TIME and I f***ing love Canada!”