Sugar Shack Season
I have a confession to make and for it someone might actually try to revoke my Canadian status or at least my Quebec residency - I've never been been to a sugar shack, or as they call them here in Quebec, cabane au sucre. This is probably a bigger deal in Quebec then most places in Canada because Quebec produces 75% of the world's maple syrup (sorry Vermonters but it's true). As I've lived for about 9 years in Quebec my having not been to one is quite disturbing to other residents. In my defense, I didn't grow up here and most people in Quebec go to the cabane au sucre as kids on school trips and where I grew up sugar shacks are few and far between. But I do love maple syrup. Nothing is better on pancakes. And bacon flavoured by maple syrup just might be one of the most perfect food known to humankind. Once again I've be lived vicariously through bloggers this sugaring off season.
Julie has some beautiful sugar shack photos on her photoblog, Julie's 366 Photos in 2008. Juls at Thoughts of Smother Mother provides a reminder that one should probably go to a cabane au sucre hungry.
The food came fast and furious and it was all good. Ham, eggs, sausages, baked beans, les oreilles de chris (which is basically deep fried pig fat, and my personal favorite), potatoes and pancakes. They didn't have any split pea and ham soup, which didn't upset me too much as I am not an enormous fan. And of course to finish it all off sugar tart and pudding au chaumeur (cake with melted maple butter over top is the easiest way to describe it).
Many of the blogs that I found were written by people who are on extended visits to Canada (emphasizing again that most locals go as kids...). Michelle at Year in Canada is here on a one year teaching exchange from New Zealand. She made a recent trip to a sugar shack near Ottawa. She wasn't able to see the processing that day but she did get some yummy taffy.
Speaking of understanding and appreciating the culture, yesterday we went to what is known as “Cabine a Sucre” or what is commonly known as a sugar shack. This is not your average cabine in the woods where a lot of machines produce delicious maple syrup, it’s an experience that submerses you into the Canadian culture.
Luna is also in Montreal, but on placement here from the University of Bath. She discovered one of the effects of a visit to a cabana au sucre - the maple sugar high.
However the real fun happened outside when we made our syrup lollies; basically they poor warm syrup all over the snow and you get a lolly stick and roll it in the syrup until you have your own lolly. They taste kinda grose, just like pure sugar however we couldn't get enough and before we knew it Bianca, Jen and I were sugar drunk and hysterical like 5-year-old's who have eaten too many orange chocolate Smarties.
(A clarification least there be any confusion...in Canada Smarties are a chocolate candy similar to M&Ms and the candy Americans call Smarties we call Rockets.)
I'll make it to a sugar shack some day. Maybe next year?
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