If you ask an average group of people to describe Chinese, Thai, Italian or French cuisine, they’d all pretty much agree on the basics for each of them, but ask them about Canadian food and they’d likely look at you blankly.Despite the lack of an easily-defined national cuisine, Canadians still manage to eat very well and are actually spoiled at the abundance and variety available to us. Informed by the recipes brought over by generations of immigrants, both recent and from long ago, along with contributions owed to us by Indigenous people, Canadians have concocted a number of dishes that are unique and beloved.To help you sample some of the best that Canada has to offer, here is a selection of tasty food trails for you to discover, listed from west to east:Nanaimo Bar Trail – Nanaimo, British ColumbiaNanaimo Bars are a classic slice of Canadiana. [Gwendolyn Richards/Calgary Herald]There are few desserts that inspire as much devotion as the Nanaimo bar. While no one is quite sure of its true origin, this tasty sweet traditionally consists of a middle of yellow custard sandwiched between a coconut and graham cracker crust and a chocolate ganache top. There are many takes on the traditional recipe and you can sample a bunch of them on a trail in and around its namesake town on Vancouver Island that will leave your belly full and your dentist happy.Dumpling Trail – Richmond, British ColumbiaThere’s a dumpling for everyone in Richmond, BC. [AP Photo/Matthew Mead]With a little over 40 per cent of the population of Richmond speaking Cantonese or Mandarin, it’s no surprise that this coastal city is the home to some of Canada’s best Chinese food. It’s also home to Vancouver’s airport, so travellers don’t even have to go very far to sample it. The city’s Asian-inspired night market that runs on summer weekends is a great place to get your fill of Chinese cuisine, but the rest of the time, you could follow the dumpling trail to gorge yourself on meat and vegetable-filled delights, both steamed and fried.Poutine Trail – ManitobaClassic poutine is simply fries, cheese curds and gravy, but chefs like to get creative with other options.There are not many dishes that are distinctly Canadian, but poutine is surely one of them. Invented in Quebec, this artery-clogging mess of french fries, cheese curds and gravy has transcended its provincial roots and is now beloved across the nation. Chefs like to play around with the toppings, but purists stick to the classic recipe favoured by patateries everywhere. While Quebec has a route de la poutine of its own, the Poutine Trail in Manitoba lets you savour poutine while encountering one of the strongest francophone communities outside of La Belle Province.Butter Tart Tour – Kawarthas Northumberland, OntarioButter tarts are a Canadian classic. [File photo/Postmedia News]Canadians sure love their sweets and butter tarts are a staple recipe of grandmothers everywhere. Made from butter, sugar and eggs in a pastry shell, these venerable desserts likely date back to pioneer times so they are a treat that has been around for generations. Some recipes include raisins and there are people who will fight you if you say that they shouldn’t be included. If you want to compare them for yourself, follow the Butter Tart Tour in Ontario’s Kawarthas Northumberland region to see which you like best.Apple Route – Southern OntarioMany apple varieties are hardy enough to grow in Canada’s climate. [AP Photo/Vitalie Plotnic]Early settlers to Canada found that one of the fruits that grew best in our unforgiving climate were apples. Orchards abound throughout the land, but they are especially common where people have been farming the longest which is mostly in eastern Canada. One area where the fruit is plentiful is in southern Ontario along the shores of Lake Ontario. If you follow the Apple Route, not only can you stop at farms to pick your own apples to eat right off of the tree, but you can sample apple butter, apple pie, apple jam, apple fritters and, of course, apple cider.Maple Trail – Lanark County, OntarioNothing tastes like freshly-boiled maple syrup. [File photo/Postmedia News]One of the quintessential Canadian flavours is maple. Heck, we even have a maple leaf on our flag, but tapping trees to make maple syrup predates this nation by millennia and is a trick that the Indigenous people taught to the first colonists in Quebec and Ontario. And to this day, families continue to flock to sugar bushes every spring in both provinces, and other parts of the country, where maples grow to delight in this liquid ambrosia. Ontario’s Lanark County encourages visitors to follow their Maple Trail to discover the real thing and not the fake sugar water that is sold in the grocery store.La route des fromages – QuebecMost of Canada’s cheeses are made in Quebec. [Ten Speed Press/Random House]Every province has its own culinary traditions, but les Québecois take it to another level. Among the many things they do well is cheese. In fact, half of the country’s cheese production is in Quebec, ranging from massive international companies like Saputo to tiny, artisanal producers creating cheese in the same styles brought over from France centuries ago. For a time, the province marketed a cheese trail for tourists to follow, but there are so many cheesemakers that it’s impossible to do them all justice so just check out the map of outlets on your route and know that no matter which ones you visit, you’ll find something amazing to eat.Prince Edward Island Culinary TrailEating lobster on Prince Edward Island is a must. [The Canadian Press/Handout photo/Perry Jackson]For such a tiny province, Prince Edward Island has some outstanding culinary experiences. It’s rich, red soil is world-famous for the potatoes it produces, but this mostly agricultural province grows plenty of other foods so farm-to-table opportunities abound. It also happens to be an island of fishermen so the bounty of the sea is always on the table. PEI’s culinary trail isn’t a specific route, but mostly a compendium of places to discover on the island where you just might eat the meal of a lifetime.– Mark Stachiew is a Montreal-based freelance writer who shares travel news and tips at www.stachiew.com and curates a collection of cool travel gear at www.jetsetgeneration.com.