A while ago, one of my oldest and dearest friends, was writing an International Gluten-Free cookbook. Michael’s question to me was what could he include that would be truly Canadian. To me, the answer was very simple. With apologies to the entire state of Vermont, anything with Maple Sugar or Maple Syrup is as Canadian as it comes.
When I was growing up it was such a part of Canadian culture that, as young children, one of the great treats after our long winters was when ‘Sugaring Off’ parties took place. When the sap rose in the early spring. off our entire school class would go to the country and to farms and woodlots where they gathered the syrup from our national symbol, the Maple. They’d tap the trees with metal spigots, attach long aluminum pails to them and the syrup would drip from the trees. It’s a clear liquid and looks and tastes very much like sweetened water. Once they’d collected enough, it would be put into caldrons and set over wood fires where it thickened and turned amber. For our visit, the syrup was poured over wooden troughs of snow, where depending on its thickness, it formed maple candy. We ate so much of the stuff that most of the ride back to the city was punctuated by the moans of the overeaters and vows never to do that again. Until, of course, next year.