One of my fondest memories of taking french immersion was back in Grade 4 or 5. I was living in Saskatchewan and we had a teacher intern from Quebec who was sharing french culture to classrooms throughout the school. Most of us moaned at the thought of learning about anything cultural. That was until she mentioned we were going to be making candy in the snow. After hearing that she officially had my attention!
Tire D’érable, Maple Toffee on a Stick
That was the first time I had ever heard of “Tire D’érable“, or Maple Toffee for us english speaking Canadians. Our french teacher intern took our classroom outside in the winter. We were taught that in the old days these types of treats were incredibly popular with children, not only because they tasted amazing, but because they were also fun to make.
We watched as she boiled Quebecois maple syrup to a liquid state. The smell of melting maple syrup filled the entire schoolyard. Aunt Jemima would be proud. Once it was ready, she happily handed out popsicle sticks and instructed to find some clean snow. She proceeded to poor this hot liquid in a small straight line and told us to wait a second before rolling our sticks through the amber trail.
As the liquid solidified around the stick, a Maple Syrup “sucker” was born. Forged from heat, snow, and tree guts. We were blown away. Needless to say some kids ended up with more of it on their face than in their mouths. Regardless, we were hooked! French culture was officially awesome from that day on. Unfortunately that was the last time had Home-made Maple Toffee until my recent visit to Quebec City.
Sold on the Streets of Old Quebec
Located on the streets of Old Quebec, little stands were selling these maple syrup treats. A plywood box held a patch of clean snow. I watched as a young man splashed the snow with a gracious amount of liquified maple syrup. A customer waited for it to cool, her smile growing as she saw it was ready. She rolled the wooden stick slowly and confidently through the hardening toffee. This clearly wasn’t her first rodeo.
I promptly jumped in line with my sister and a couple friends, and for about $2.00 I was treated to my favourite Canadian candy. Still sticky, still gooey, still incredibly tasty! I spoke to my friends as I watched them devour theirs. One of the guys I was with was going to town on his. He smiled and began to loudly declaring “Why aren’t these everywhere!?!“. I believe he liked them.