dimanche 27 mars 2011

Sugarshack party

Every year we go to the sugar shack.  That is a firmly entrenched Québec tradition.  It goes back to the very beginning of the province when, in New France, the Fisrt Nations people taught the colonists about the virtues of maple trees.  Family and friends gather for a hearthy meal (well maybe not so good for the hearth because of the fat and much sugar, but once a year, so what?).  Some bring beer and wine, we do not nowadays because of the kids and tough new laws about drinking and driving.

You have here a good idea of the fare.

This is la Cabane de la Famille Éthier, we have been coming here every March since 1982.
The entrance to the maple bush whence the sap used for the syrup and other produce comes from, 39 litres of sap for one litre of syrup. Now tubes are inserted in the trees and gravity takes the sap to the boilers from about mid-March to the end of April depending on cold nights and warm days.

Ariane meets horsies under dad's wathchful eyes.

Sap is boiled in the vats behind the collectors and then the syrup is canned.  Four cans to a gallon 
(3.89 litres).

Mme Éthier cooks a mean omelette and it does not sag when cut.

No sugar party is complete without syrup on the snow and, below, grandma shows how it's eaten.  A bit sticky and very tricky with dental plates but we did not lose any.

We all hope to meet here again next year.  Until then watch the fat and sugar.

14 commentaires:

  1. I bet everything was yummy. What was the occasion?

  2. As I wrote, it is a Québec tradition. Every Spring during Maple tree tapping, we Québecers flock to the Cabane for merrymaking and to fill our sweet tooth. It`s a ritual going back to the very beginning of the colony when everybody gave a hand in tapping the trees, collecting the sap bucket, etc...
    Besides Rosaria, Québecers do not need an occasion to party, even more so when spring comes.

  3. That looks like tremendous fun although I honestly couldn't eat most of it (I would nibble around the edges of some things and annoy everyone; I would absolutely have the frozen syrup). Those horses appear amiable, too.

  4. For a vegetarian, that meal can be a bit rough. The potatoes and baked beans along the marinades would probably be amenable.
    As for the "frozen" syrup", you would certainly appreciate it.

  5. Thank you,Paul, for providing a pictorial mural of this wonderful Quebec tradition. (This solves the mystery about why Judge LeBlah likes maple syrup on his French toast...instead of powdered sugar).

    What a feast. And yes, I'm with you. Once a year, eat up!

    This sugar shack looks much tamer than the evening Richard had on the branch...

  6. Maple syrup (the real thing) on French toasts is the only sensible way to eat them. Must be in Hizzonor's genes.

  7. Sugar shack tamer than the branch? With kids around, definitely.

  8. Sirop d'érable. Merveilleux. Une tradition grande.

    They used to do that in parts of Ontario, too. But I've never been. Poor, deprived Ours brun.

  9. Yes indeed, Maple syrup drizzled into stuffed squash, wild rice, pies, French toast, and a few other dishes too, are a part of our family traditions. Yes, you can tell where many of ancestors came from.

  10. Yes Rob-Bear, Upper Canada Village near Morrisburgh, near Cornwall, has a traditional sugar shack, a kind of maple sap museum, that is very intersting.
    Zeus, I'm glad my main god enjoys maple syrup. Never tried it on squash nor rice, but it would be worth trying. Thanks for the suggestion.

  11. I tasted maple syrup in Vermont, and, well, it was a bit too sweet to my gout altho I found it yummy at the same time. From my father's side we like all things sweet (Alps are cold I guess).

    I loved the tradition story about the natives teaching you New France people how to appreciate the fruits of your / their hguge land. It is the kind of stories that make me day dream.

    And yes, from the faces in the pictures, there is great intelligence and beauty in your family Paul!

    Complimenti a un amico caro (e patriarca)


  12. Thank you Giovanni, I will forward your appreciation to my family.
    As for Vermont maple syrup, it is a bit sweeter than ours. From soil type to soil type the taste and sugar content may vary. The cold and warm alternance can also influence the product as the lenght of preparation.
    Some jurisdiction allow the producer to add brown sugar or molasses to the sap.
    In Québec such altered product can not be sold as maple syrup, it most be labeled: "maple produce", The real McCoy only can be labeled "pure maple product".

  13. Interesting, the diverse types according to places, and that somewhere they add brown sugar (the one I prefer) or molasses.

    We were together with friends (a couple) in Vermont, 1993 maybe. She was from a town close to Chicago, he from London. I actually found that maple syrup too sweet though yummy as I said.

    Before that day, my only 'experience' of maple syrup soaking HUGE piles of pancakes, I had had with Donald Duck's comics lol

  14. Vermont maple syrup is well known and of good quality. Vermont, Québec and eastern Ontario are the main maple syrup producers.