Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Canadians and Their Maple Syrup: A Tragic Tale

I'm shocked. Shocked! According to Jennifer Bain in The Toronto Star, Canadians consume a mere 1/4 cup of maple syrup per year. Per year! The quintessential Canadian food, and Canadians on average consume only 86 grams of the stuff? I can't believe it. I can't believe it because any self-respecting French Canadian quaffs the stuff, on scrambled eggs, on bacon, in baked beans, in puddings, on pancakes, on french toast, in pies, in sausages. The question is what don't they put it on? That means non-French Canadians must consume zero for yearly consumption to average out to such a measly amount.

We are the biggest producer of this liquid gold in the world. We are one of only two countries that have the trees and the climate to produce this nectar of sweetness, and we curl up our tongues at it. I can't believe even one drop is lanquishing in warehouses, yet most is exported and much is sitting around, being wasted. Now I understand why one can't get decent-sized bottles of the stuff: people go through it one drop at a time, and a big bottle would sit on the shelf for years at that rate. I don't get it.

Long ago and far away I used to have shipped to me gratis nice large bottles of the best syrup, No. 1 medium of course, or sometimes amber; now that line has dried up and I have to buy it in the grocery store (I know, woe is me, but I think any French Canadian reader will understand) and hoard it as I can't afford the prices for such small amounts. It always seemed to me that being Canadian included having a bottle of the stuff in one's fridge.

I remember as a kid going to the sugarbush, freezing my feet off as we hiked through the trees and followed the lines, eagerly watching for the sap flow, then warming up in the sugar shack to watch the syrup boil, until that final mouth-watering anticipated moment when the presider would pour molten syrup over cold snow and we'd get a delightful morsel of maple taffy. Those days are gone -- there's no snow to make taffy even -- but that love of syrup stayed with me. It was what made me know I had become a real Canadian.

No comments: