Food Advice when visiting the Canadian Maritimes

Donair or Not to Donair: That is the Question

Recently, my neighbor told me he was going to visit Prince Edward Island (PEI) this summer. This got me reminiscing about our many summer trips to the Canadian Maritimes. So, I sat down on the couch and grabbed the PEI family vacation scrapbook and immediately got the chills.

Sure our vacation to PEI included the requisite: fishing, whale watch, hikes, beach walks, etc. But as I started flipping through the scrapbook, my daughter walked by and saw I was looking at the photos and yelled to the rest of the house — Dad’s looking at the Donair book!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Canadian Maritimes. In fact, some of my favorite family memories involve trips to Canada. They especially loved the funny money like the gold colored loonie and the five dollar bill depicting a hockey scene.

When we arrived in PEI, the kids were hungry, so we stopped at what appeared to be a family friendly sandwich/pizza shop. It had booth seating, fountain drinks, and a large fast food menu. On the menu board, FRESH DONAIR was handwritten in capital letters.

Everyone else chose the safety of pizza, but I decided to try the FRESH DONAIR. When in Canada do as the Canadians do right?  When I asked the teenage boy behind the counter what a Donair was he stared at me with a blank expression for a few seconds and then said it was spiced meat on a pita and topped with tomatoes, lettuce, and raw onions.  I said, oh like a gyro. Which was apparently the wrong thing to say as the older man behind the counter walked over and said no, no not at all like a gyro. A Donair is Canadian, and a gyro is from Greece.

I attempted to remedy my culinary misstep by ordering one. He turned around and proudly unblanketed a hunk of meat attached to a steel pipe slowly rotating.   


photo credit: Cosmos pizza donair “”>(license)</a>

The Donair was wrapped in tinfoil much like a gyro and eaten out of hand. My family reveled at how I looked with the sauce drizzling down my chin. No-one wanted a bite.

It wasn’t more than 20 minutes later that my stomach began to growl, the abdominal sounds weren’t the normal rumble they were loud and angry noises. It felt like something was alive inside me. Everyone in the car laughed, and I chuckled “Donair”.

For the remaining 10 minute drive, I altered between states of sweating, mouth watering and having the chills. When we arrived at the house, stayed in the bathroom for the entire night and next day. While everyone else played games and went to the beach.  I had what we have since called: Donair revenge – food poisoning.

So the next time you’re in the Canadian Maritimes, Donair think I didn’t warn you to skip the Donair and eat the pizza.

Phillip Potenziano

About Phillip Potenziano

In addition to blogging, Dr. Potenziano works as an Assistant Superintendent, and volunteers on the board of a southern Maine local non-profit. He is happily nestled just north of Portland, with his 3 kids, a wife and lots of projects awaiting his attention. He loves early morning runs, donuts and sometimes coffee. Two lessons he tries to remember are: "Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him" and "At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assure your success."