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Maple Syrup Pie a la Quebecoise

Maple Syrup Pie a la Quebecoise
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In Spring, Quebec taps its sugar maples.

As a lot of my readers know, I am from the province of Quebec in Canada.  Even though I have lived my entire adult life in the States, I still revere my Canadian roots and I am very proud of my home country and all that it stands for.  My hometown, Montreal, is one of the world’s great places to eat.  But today’s recipe is for an item you likely won’t find in too many restaurants.  Where you will find it is on the tables of Quebecois homes because if there’s one item that is universally loved in Quebec, it is our Maple Syrup. And from that maple syrup comes a pie that is as much a part of winter in Quebec as snow. Its crust is the simplest possible: just four ingredients –flour, butter, salt and water.  Once it’s in place in the pie dish, the filling of pure maple syrup, beaten eggs and butter, cream, and a little flour and salt is poured over the crust.  It perfumes the house and once out of the oven, the one to two hour wait for the pie to cool is sheer torture.   Finally, you are rewarded with this decadent winter treat that is best appreciated with a large scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream to blunt the intense sweetness of the pie.  Not everyone thinks it needs this addition; our friend Jim took one bite and pronounced the pie as good as eating pancakes and maple syrup. But I’d go for the Ice Cream.

It is hard for non-Canadians to understand how deeply ingrained Maple Syrup is in our culture. Our flag should be a cue; that red leaf in the middle of it is in fact a Maple Leaf.  Virtually all schoolchildren in Quebec province are taken annually, to “Sugaring Off” Parties where we learn how the amber liquid is made and then eat vast quantities of the stuff which is ladled onto snow in troughs where it hardens enough to be picked up and eaten. We Canadians love our Maple Syrup so much, that it is almost unheard-of for visiting friends and relatives not to arrive with quantities of our national liquid.  So it was last summer that our dear friends Ann and David arrived on Long Island with four full cans of the finest syrup.  And from that, Andrew created this famous and well-loved pie.

         Maple Syrup has a long history in Canada. Like the man who ate the first oyster, I wonder who initially decided to tap into the maple tree in Spring, when the sap runs.  But the indigenous people did.  Until the 1930s, the United States produced most of the world’s maple syrup.  Canada has long since out-produced the U.S. Today Canada produces 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup.  And in Canada, Quebec outstrips every other province producing 75 percent of the total global production. This translates into a staggering 6,500,000 gallons.  At last count there were more than 7000 producers in the province.  And like Reggiano Parmigiano in Italy and the AOC in France, there’s even a governing body, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Quebec) which controls production and gives producers a quota allotment each year. They even maintain reserves of the syrup.  Sounds suspiciously like OPEC, doesn’t it?  Hopefully, you have a supply of Maple Syrup on hand or you can find the genuine article in your supermarket.  Here is the recipe:

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