And ode to Joe



Moooooo, says the cow.

cows

 

For a few moments of comic relief, I invite you to scope out the entertaining results when you Google the phrase “Maple Syrup in Spain”. Such gems include:

–Can I bring maple syrup to Spain?

–Where to use maple syrup in Spain?

–Has anyone tried baking with maple syrup in Spain?

–Will my maple syrup be confiscated if I bring it to Spain?

–Does maple syrup exist in Spain?

…these are among a lengthy list of 1,090,000 others compiled by Google in 0.35 seconds. Or so Google tells me.

 

These are in fact tremendously important questions. Conveniently, I’m well versed in each of them. So in order,

1) Yes. Just not in your carry-on bag escorted through security or you risk TSA drinking it. Confiscated it, rather.

2) This is silly. Everywhere, duh. Oatmeal, BBQ sauce, cocktails, on a spoon, on popcorn, over Greek yogurt with freshly harvested figs, drizzled over your bacon (or Iberian Ham), sauteed with brussels sprouts, or perhaps directly from a straw. All acceptable answers.

3) Me me me! Yes yes yes. (I am literally raising my hand right now). Yes, I’ve baked with maple syrup in Spain. The end result was a zucchini bread, sweetened with maple syrup which, naturally, was superb.

4) See question 1. Don’t be a travel rookie and you’ll be fine.

5) Duh, yes. In fact besides at the overpriced bio-grocery stores found here in Europe, I think the second best place to procure liquid maple gold is to head down to the Girona Customs office and look for packages addressed to me. Spain’s economy may be suffering, but their customs department is operating up to snuff as they have a relentless stranglehold on the maple syrup that’s been generously sent to me world wild!

You see, I’ll receive the message from Customs, I’ll go through their rigorous and meticulous paperwork to complete the transaction, then wait… and wait… and wait… all the while knowing that they’re tucked behind closed doors, secretly noshin’ sub-par, non-New England-made pancakes stacked asymmetrically 6″ tall or thick and pillowy waffles with just the right amount of crisp outside edges, all dribbled in maple syrup. Dribbled? There’s an art to a New England breakfast. It includes these aforementioned pan-cooked or waffle-maker crisped, and then topped with a sunny side up egg, and then drenched in maple syrup. Yes amigos, that flour, salt, milk, egg, baking soda/powder concoction cooks up into the perfect sponge for the job. No, the perfect vehicle for the job! Just like Extreme Home Makeover yells “MOVE. THAT. BUS!” I vehemently cry “DRENCH. THAT. PANCAAAAAAKE!”

Exhibit A: wastefully, tastelessly dry. (Editor’s note: the size of this picture was not chosen purposefully. But it’s small size is an indication that bleakly, syrup “dribbled” pancakes are not what one should aspire towards. #Fact.)

EXIBIT A

Exhibit B: Luscious thin pancakes, proudly stacked tall. Once “adequate” amount of syrup has been applied, continue pouring until you’ve reached the junction of “well beyond adequate” and “this is an absurd amount of maple syrup”. Next, continue pouring for 2-3 seconds. Stop. Congratulate yourself for your pouring patience. Now enjoy your pancakes.

pancakes-syrup

Coincidentally, I found this latter picture on THIS website aptly titled, Have some Pancakes with your Maple Syrup. Ooooooh ho ho ho, that’s rich! I love the nuanced naivety of the one comment from anonymous MK, who points out that maple syrup is bad because it has sugar in it. Well, gee whiz, apples must be bad too because they have sugar! Meanwhile, MK will smugly return to his/her “healthy” lifestyle and serve up your family some lo-fat fruit flavored yogurt (low in fat; insanely high in sugar), sprinkled atop the pillar of health All-Brand (with it’s beyond ample syrup supplementation — you can’t make 90% bran taste good without 10% sugar), plus some vitamin C enriched orange juice (from concentrate, supplemented heavily with sugar) for a heart breakfast and then hours later, slave away over a healthy dinner of pasta with tomato sauce (insane amount of sugar… all on top of a vat of complex carbohydrates), and a nice side salad with factory made dressing (corn syrup listed twice in the ingredients: yum yum!). MK sees the trees, but the forest is eluding her. In truth, maple syrup is all natural, perfectly healthy, incredibly rich in antioxidants, steeped with natural minerals, plus has a dynamic and slow glycemic index providing a longer source of energy throughout your day. And the taste is ethereal.

We have now reached the conclusion of Act I of this play. Please take a breather.

The true reason I pen up this post is my dear friend Joe. In particular, Maple Joe. Like Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed, no one knows the 100% true tale of Maple Joe. But I can attest that when you come home to Spain from the Tour de Suisse and you’re staying with your good friend and teammate as he generous puts you up for a week between races, you can’t get truly mad at him when he has tapped into the maple syrup that you brought from your tiny hometown, made by your best friend since 3rd grade’s father, authentically contained in a Ball jar for extra homey’ness, also proudly claimed by said purveyor that this is “the best stuff I have ever produced!”. Because let’s be honest, a friendship and hospitality is priceless. Just like that maple syrup in a foreign land.

Thankfully, I also have “the best stuff I ever produced in the spring 2014″ back home. Danny B., you’re the man!

So where am I taking this rambling? I haven’t had maple syrup for a while and maybe that’s why this blog post is errant like a drunkard bat chasing mosquitoes at dusk. Most of the maple syrup with my name on it, literally, is confiscated behind the heavily armed doors of the Spanish Customs office. Then a friend doused his homemade granola with it. I actually accept that as it was going to a good home — his belly and fuel for a ride. But the question arises: when you’re in a total pinch — your maple syrup is confiscated and/or consumed — what do you do?! Answer: you go to the French Carrefour grocery stores and pick up a pint of maple syrup with the friendly face of Maple Joe. His absurd beard and authentic plaid make you yearn for New England’s finest (…or in a pinch, something inferior from Quebec). And for under 5 euro, it’s all yours.

index

Just don’t get on a plane with it, duh. Or TSA will flip their crap, confiscate it,… and surely send it to Spanish Customs for further safe keeping.

In other news, I rode my bike here today. Remember those cows at the beginning of this post saying Moooo? They were my riding buddies today. But they opted for more grass eating than bike riding. We hung out for 12 seconds anyway. I rode here too:

road



Comments

  1. Jim Halpin

    Man, that road in the last pic looks saweet! I’m hoping you have much better luck this year in Le Tour.

    Cheers, Jim

    Reply
  2. TIM mCCARTHY

    Become euro distributor of the Northeast gold! you could get rich and sponsor a bike team !

    Reply
  3. Lee Hodsdon

    Hi Ted,

    Just heard the good news. Congratulations and have a great ride.

    Lee Hodsdon

    Reply
  4. Gabe

    Yo! TED!
    Its official!!

    I think I speak for all your fans in NH when I say klep up the good work! and Congratulations !
    ~G

    Reply
  5. Sara

    Best of luck! We in New England, and dare I say, maple syrup lovers everywhere, will be cheering you on (while we eat our pancakes).

    Reply
  6. Chris Boerner-Bennett

    From Uncle Crocker’s wife! Had to look @ your Website, after having a witness today who did the 200 on 100 last year because he thinks you’re great.

    Best of luck from VT, and don’t forget what VT’s gold medal snowboard chick said: “It’s the maple syrup, baby”.

    Reply
  7. Steve Kocik

    Ted –
    Congrats on the Tour. When you return you will need some refreshment of the after dinner type. I would suggest Rail Dog. Made in good ole’ Vermont, it is Barrel Aged Maple Spirit. Check them out at http://www.raildog.com

    Reply
    • iamtedking

      Steve, I love where your head’s at. Thanks for the heads up. That’ll be a nice carrot on the stick…

      Reply
  8. Sarah

    I am so glad to discover another person who understands the proper application of maple syrup! I buy two gallons a year from a wonderful sugarhouse in VT (we call it our own strategic maple reserve, except there is not much reserved by the end of the year). Did you ever have breakfast at Eaton’s Sugarhouse in South Royalton when you were at Middlebury? It was a bit of a trip over 125 and Brandon Gap Rd, but you would love the “house rule” stating that you had to finish the jug of syrup they put on your table. Even after syrup delivery as you describe, a table of four might still be doing maple shots at the end to get it all taken care of! Anyhow, from one Middlebury cyclist (’01, so I barely missed you) and maple syrup fiend to another, cheers on the riding and the new maple project. You found at least one new investor here:) If you ever head out to California’s Eastern Sierra to try your hand at some of our crazy climbs, send an email.

    Reply

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