Canadian cuisine is often the underdog as compared to that of well-established culinary arts giants of France, Italy, and Japan, for example. Often, we Canadians forget the fact that we walk in the footsteps of our First Nations Forefathers, who have bestowed upon us distinct and ancient traditions: the art of making maple syrup is a case in point. Aside from Canada, there are only a few States south of the border that can boast the quality of maple syrup that is produced, which is of the finest grade.
Centuries ago, the Algoquin First Nations used clay pots to first collect, and then to fire to purify or distill maple syrup into thick, amber-colored deliciousness, but later on, the cabin a sucre or sugar shack was developed by European settlers. Below and in the video, you see an image of the distilling machinery used, where the syrup is heated for several hours by a wood-burning fire, as it flows through several compartments. Patience is a virtue in this entire process, but the results are well worth it!
Of course, I cannot go without mentioning maple syrup’s nutritional advantages: notwithstanding its characteristic and delicious flavour, this purely Canadian sap is also a source of manganese and zinc, both of which aid in immune function, a dense source of calories (in case you are lacking in these) as well as a great option for vegan diets, as no animal products are used in its manufacture.
If you ever have the golden (or amber) opportunity to visit a sugar shack, as I had at my aunt and uncle’s place near Peterborough, Ontario, it will be a Canadian culinary experience you would be sure to cherish (plus all the maple syrup you can manage to taste!).