People in Quebec are crazy about maple: maple trees, maple wood, maple leaves, and, of course, maple syrup. The latter is a gift from Indigenous peoples, who showed the European settlers how to collect maple sap in the spring and boil it down into syrup.
I have watched people from an Algonquin community harvest sap by hand using traditional methods, and I have seen the modern operations which involve miles of plastic tubing which has largely replaced the quaint buckets that hang on the trees.
On my recent trip to Quebec, I visited the “Maison Amerindienne,” which features and exhibit on Indigenous maple syrup making. Good syrup requires cold nights and warm days. Those conditions occur in early spring when there is still considerable snow in the woods, so Aboriginal peoples wore snowshoes (just one more of their amazing inventions) to get around in the woods and carry the sap buckets back and forth to the fire. Check out these cool snowshoes, made completely of wood.
I bought several cans of syrup to bring home. We insist on the real thing when we have pancakes or waffles. I also have a recipe for a killer maple syrup souffle – which, come to think of it, I haven’t made in a while. If you’re interested in the recipe, let me know and I’d be happy to post it – if you promise to use only real, pure maple syrup.