Monday, March 1, 2010
The Maple Leaf (and Maple Syrup!) Forever!!
"I think there's going to be a lot of maple syrup in Vancouver.....it's got medal written all over it."
-- Craig Buntin
(Craig Buntin of Vancouver and his partner, Meagan Duhamel, were the silver medalists at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in 2009.)
Craig Buntin uttered the above words back in 2006 and he couldn't have been more prophetic. What a fantastic couple of weeks it has been here in Canada!
What fun it has been to switch on the TV and always find some incredible Olympic event going on. Staggeringly brilliant performances across all events. Many were nail-biting experiences, many were breathtaking, many were heart-stopping and one in particular was heartbreaking.
I also really enjoyed the 'water cooler' conversation at work. I love it when there is such a common bond amongst people; it's such a great 'connector'. I especially noticed it today (Monday) when several times I found myself in an elevator or corridor or office with someone I did not know and it could have been an awkward situation. Not today, my friend, not today. All I had to say was, "Did you see The Game yesterday?" and the conversation was off and running. Sweet.
And speaking of sweet, what is sweeter to a Canadian than our very own maple syrup? Although my sisters in Saskatchewan and British Columbia have pointed out that they don't have maple trees (pity), I think they would have to agree that the maple tree and leaf and syrup are Canadian icons.
I know it's really springtime when our retired colleague, Ron, comes to campus with a box full of mason jars containing 'the real stuff' - maple syrup from his own maple bush. It is so wonderfully delicious and the supply is so limited that people are practically knocking each other over to lay claim to a jar. (Make sure I'm near the top of the list this year, OK, Ron?)
I remember so well a high school bus trip from Quebec City to a town further north when I was fifteen. Half-way to our goal the bus turned in to a quaint Quebecois farmhouse. It seemed rather odd to us at the time, until we realized these people ran a thriving business and were delighted to see us pull into their lane way.
My goodness, how I can still smell the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked bread which filled the country kitchen and swirled around us, pulling us in like a trawler's net. Big hearty slabs of soft, warm bread, the crusts perfectly chewy and slathered with golden hand-churned butter. Heaven! And as if that weren't a perfect treat for a band of hungry teens, there was hot maple syrup poured into trays of pure snow and rolled up with sticks into little morsels of maple ambrosia. Before we left the farmhouse, we had filled our pockets with a wide variety of maple candies in order to face the remainder of our journey with the security of a stash of sugar. HA. To be young again!
But, honestly, the young are always hungry but they are not always adventurous. I know this from experience. Back when my eldest son, Ben, was 13 his hockey team invited a Danish team over to Canada for some competition and camaraderie. We hosted two young men and it was really a great experience. Although it was often a challenge when it came to food.
One young fellow, who was staying with another family, became so excited when he realized that he could buy a case of 24 cans of Coke here in Canada for the same price as a 2 litre bottle back in Denmark, that he scooped one up and in his enthusiasm, he drank the entire case in one day! The poor lad had to be hospitalized because of the caffeine overdose, so it was probably a good thing that Coke was so expensive when he returned to Denmark.
"Our" boys didn't have any such traumas, although there were some funny incidents. I thought I was going to have to buy pickled herring for them as it is ubiquitous in Denmark, but fortunately for me, they despised it. Whew! They were also appalled at our Canadian cheese and refused to eat it. I never really understood why. I know I asked them, but maybe their English wasn't fluent enough, maybe they were just too young, or maybe they just weren't about to articulate their feelings in any language being 13-year old boys.
The most amusing thing I remember about these boys was the time I made them a very nice (if I do say so) Canadian breakfast of homemade pancakes and real maple syrup. I wanted so much to give them a taste of Canada - something that they wouldn't get in Denmark. I thought they would love them and gobble them right up. But, surprisingly, they would have none of it. They turned up their noses and crinkled their brows and, for whatever reason (who could know?) they refused to eat the pancakes. It's a mystery to me still. They didn't know what they were missing.
But, oh, we know. We know so well. Both as a decadent delight and as a metaphor. Craig Buntin couldn't have known how right he was in predicting that "there's going to be a lot of maple syrup in Vancouver", but he was right on the money. Our Canadian athletes surprised us, amazed us, delighted us, and thrilled us. Oh, yes, there was plenty of maple syrup at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. And we Canadians savoured every last drop.
Today's photo and recipe are courtesy of "allrecipes.com" - a great site featuring terrific recipes from A-Z. I have chosen, of course, a recipe that features maple syrup. I know you can all make pancakes and maple syrup, so this is a nice twist: "Sweet Potato Mash with Cinnamon and Maple Syrup". It's a nutritious and delicious dish and it's oh so Canadian. Way to go Canada!! Woo hoo!!!