Some of my earliest memories seem to involve maple syrup. During my parents' visit over the holidays, my Dad reminded me that my Mom, Dad, and I would go to 9AM Mass on Sunday and then out afterward for pancakes when I was very, very young. The pancakes were something of a bribe -- my Mom is not one to rise early on any day of the week, much less Sunday. I don't consciously remember any of this... but I do remember passing the pancake place when I was very young and saying "why don't we go there anymore?".
Thinking about that always reminds me of an early memory that more directly involves maple syrup. My Mom did occasionally make pancakes on Saturday morning when I was small, and that involved real maple syrup with melted butter. That eventually stopped when the rhythms of the household changed and my Mom resisted any entreaties to get up early on weekend mornings. I have to suspect that this is due to the fact that my sister must have finally started on regular food... my Dad can pour cold cereal as good as anyone, and there was little reason for my Mom to be awake.
The purchase of the maple syrup on a number of occasions was also memorable. We used to go a farm where it was made. I remember very early on that this was done under relatively primitive conditions... the evaporator was in one room of the sugar shack, and the wood-fed firebox was in another. It was a dark, moist place in my memory, but smelled wondrous. Eventually, production facilities were upgraded and made more visitor-friendly. The new place was bigger, cleaner, and had fluorescent lights... as well as a small store for selling syrup and maple sugar candy.
All of these memories were brought into focus recently when I was reading an article about using maple syrup in cooking. I was very interested to see that Canadian epicures have divided maple syrup into 13 flavor families, and 39 subfamilies, with a total of 91 flavor attributes. There is even a "syrup sommelier" at the Loew's Hotel Vogue in Montreal, who holds maple syrup tastings.
Me, I love maple syrup and all, but I won't be making a pilgrimage to Montreal just for the syrup. No, I am drawn to maple syrup for both the flavor and the nostalgia my earliest days... which I indulge whenever Mrs. Geek and I have brunch on the weekend with sherried french toast or buttermilk pancakes.
on 2007-02-08 at 1:00 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond