It’s probably not news that Chinese food is more popular in B.C. than in any other Canadian province.
That’s to be expected considering B.C. is home to so many people of Chinese descent and is closer to China than any other province. Proximity to a nation generally means proximity to its cuisine, and when it’s as delicious as Chinese food, proximity becomes proclivity quite quickly.
More surprising, then, is that B.C. is also Canada’s capital of Mexican food. Considering B.C. has no distinct geographic advantage over other provinces here, Mexico being generally south of the whole bunch, that seems notable.
Both of these facts come courtesy of a new analysis from recipe website Chef’s Pencil, which looked at the most popular cuisines in Canada, both by province and by city. The study, released on Wednesday, uses data from Google Trends to find out how the cuisines of the world rank from coast to coast.
Google uses artificial intelligence to categorize a host of search terms related to specific cuisines: searches for Mexican restaurants, both generally and by name, and searches for Mexican dishes or how to make them will all fall under the banner of Mexican cuisine. Google then calculates how often residents of particular provinces and cities search for Mexican cuisine and assigns an interest score.
But in B.C., Chinese food received a score of 100. And the top six cities in Canada are all in British Columbia.
Vancouver, a multicultural and food-focused city, shows up on a number of other lists. Its affinity for Italian cuisine lands it third nationally, with the rest of the top 10 represented by Ontario cities.
Vancouver comes second for interest in Thai food after Thunder Bay, Ont. And Vancouver finds itself sixth for interest in Indian food, behind the Ontario cities of Brampton and Mississauga, and three B.C. cities with large Indo-Canadian populations: Surrey, Delta and Abbotsford.
British Columbia also scored the highest among provinces (100) for its love of Indian food.
The same is true for Mexican food, where B.C. came out on top with a score of 95, thanks to top 10 performances by seven West Coast municipalities, including Vancouver, which destroyed all other Canadian cities with an interest score of 100.
A look at Google Trends within the province over the last 10 years shows Mexican food keeping pace with Japanese food for the first half of this decade before pulling ahead in the back half. Now it would appear that Mexican food is second only to Chinese food in terms of popularity in B.C., at least according to what people are searching for.
That adds up. Mexican food has been one of the trendiest cuisines in Vancouver in the past five years. There may not be taco trucks on every corner, to borrow a famous phrase, but there are taquerias in nearly every neighbourhood now.
These trends may be influenced by several other local and provincial factors: the advent of direct flights between Vancouver and Mexico City in 2010, an increase in Mexican immigration to the province, an increase in refugee claims from Mexico since the election of Donald Trump, the recent decision by the federal government to lift a requirement that all Mexican visitors obtain visas, and even the success of Tacofino.
But it would be foolish to look to Chef’s Pencil for that sort of in-depth cultural analysis. They do recipes for a meal, not recipes for the regional explosion of an entire cuisine. All we can say for certain right now is that Vancouverites, like dragons, love tacos.