In my previous post, I mentioned going to the Sugar Shack. I realised after Monkey’s comment that it may not be something you (non French-Canadian) are familiar with. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Monkey’s question had me thinking and wondering if “la cabane à sucre” as we call it, is something typically Canadian or even French Canadian… I don’t really know. I just know it’s something we’ve been doing as far back as I can remember. I used to go on school trips in elementary school, then with my parents and with friends. It’s a spring thing to do, to go sugaring off. We had some family friends who actually owned and operated a little shack at the end of their farming lot. We would go and collect the maple water from the trees, boil it for hours until it turned into syrup and then have a meal where almost everything was soaked in maple syrup.
I remember a few years back when our friend from Hawaii came to visit and we brought her to a traditional place. It’s actually an historical site, pretty and interesting. When we tried to explain what and how it was to her, my best description was that it was the equivalent to a “luau” but with maple syrup and left over winter. She actually enjoyed herself and thought it was very different from anything she had seen so far.
A typical meal at “la cabane à sucre” is composed of some "creton" (basically pork and onion spread) and bread followed by some pea soup to start, some omelettes, some baked beans (in maple syrup), some sausages (also in syrup), some boiled potatoes or sometime roasted, some ham, some pork rinds (that we call “Oreilles de crisse”, and there's no translation for that!) and misc. pickled things like beets, cucumbers, and onions. Some places will also have some meat pie, but that’s not everywhere.
For desert there’s always some sugar pie, pancakes with syrup, “pouding chômeur” (literally translated to “Unemployed pudding” which is like a simple white cake buried under maple syrup - and I do make a mean one!) and some “Grand Père” (translated to “Grand Father” which are like donuts centre soaked in maple syrup) .
To finish it all off we go for some “tire sur la neige” (or maple taffy on snow). That's the best part!
It is VERY rich, and man oh man, is it sweet; but once every so often it not so bad.
Here’s a link to a little video showing you, if you’re curious; pretty much what it is all about.
Images: Assiette & Tire