Does not liking maple make me a bad Canadian?
On Thanksgiving morning I put on the bacon. Yes, we actually had bacon. It was a really good deal. Of course, I mean that in relative terms.
If you had told me even six months ago that I would be thankful for a $4 pound (correction, 375 gram, since they’ve shrunken the package size) pack of bacon, I would have laughed.
But on Thanksgiving, we’re supposed to find things we are thankful for, so that was one. Crazy that bacon has become a luxury, though, right?
I wasn’t as thankful when it started sizzling and the waft of maple came drifting over to where I was stirring the (yes, from scratch) pancake batter.
Probably saying I don’t like maple, is a bit strong. It won’t stop me from enjoying bacon or a nice glazed piece of salmon, I just prefer other flavours given the choice.
I was raised mostly in Ottawa, so I do fondly remember the ‘sugar shack’ excursions.
This is something most kids from eastern Canada will be familiar with. When the snow began to melt and the sap started to run, we would head off to the bush, usually someplace in Quebec, where we would be treated to the boiled-down sap on snow and samples of maple syrup, butter, candy and other maple products.
Sometimes there would be sleigh rides through the trees all decked out with their metal spigots draining the maple sap into buckets that would then be dumped into big tanks and drawn by horses back to the evaporators.
For me, the overall experience was greater than the stuff we got to eat. I’d still rather have pretty much any other kind of syrup on my pancakes.
In any event, we are known for it worldwide. Canada produces 85 per cent (60 to 80 million kg) of all the maple syrup produced on the planet (almost all of that in Quebec) worth more than half a billion dollars.
I almost feel unpatriotic for thinking ‘meh, what’s the big fuss?’
What we were never told 50 years ago, not surprisingly, is that we owe this legacy to the Indigenous people who taught European settlers how to harvest the maple sap and help them survive the harsh winters.
This Thanksgiving, among the many things I find in my life to be grateful for, I am thankful that we have begun the process of setting the historical record straight.
I also dislike pumpkin pie.