Words by: Amanda Barone and Jordan Rozenfeld, Photos by: Rochelle Li
As anyone who has ever failed at flipping over a hot griddle early on a weekend morning can tell you, pancake making is an art form. To make and serve perfect pancakes requires many components, each of which must be executed masterfully. The pancakes must be fluffy and golden brown, served piping hot, and of course, drizzled to perfection with maple syrup. The third component of this dish, maple syrup, is usually taken as a given, and it truly was not until this weekend that two members of The Trio learned just how much work goes into something that is taken for granted every time we reach for the bottle (of maple syrup, that is).
A long time ago, we received an email from BU Dining Sustainability announcing a one of a kind field trip, so called The Flapjack Fling. The Flapjack Fling would take place at the Mass Audubon's Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary on a Saturday morning and promised two exciting activities: a tour of the wildlife preserve's maple sugaring process and a pancake breakfast (both of which would be paid for by BU).
Amanda and Marisa immediately jumped at the chance to take a break from the city life and get their Walden on while learning about the art of maple syrup making. The trip was originally scheduled for February 21st, but due to the insanely cold temperatures that week, it was rescheduled for March 21st. Unfortunately, this new date coincided with BU's snow make-up day, and Marisa was forced to spend the morning working in a laboratory rather than frolicking through the forest. Luckily, Amanda didn't have to go on this adventure alone; she brought Jordan along with her. Unluckily, however, they couldn't escape the freezing temperatures; it was snowing the morning-of.
So it goes that on Saturday morning 10 minutes before they had to catch the bus to the Mass. Audubon, Amanda broke into Jordan's (unlocked) room and frantically woke her up. Speed walking to the GSU, they made it in the nick of time to check in and board their bus at 8 am. About 40 minutes later, they arrived at their destination.
First on the agenda was the pancake breakfast. As Jordan had barely had time to get dressed, nevertheless get breakfast, she was very excited for this. The group of about 50 BU students was led into a small, barn-like structure, and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed volunteers went to work serving them orange juice and pancakes (and Amanda, the polar opposite of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, went to work making herself coffee). The pancakes were good, and a chocolate covered strawberry was an adorable addition to their plates, but the real star of the show was the maple syrup. After their first tastes of the sweet syrup, Jordan and Amanda were hungry to discover how it was made.
The next portion of the morning showcased Amanda and Jordan's love of the outdoors and devotion to maple syrup making. They teamed up with a tour guide, and together they trudged through the snow to learn about the fascinating maple sugaring process. First, they learned to identify the Sugar Maple tree by looking for its opposite branch arrangement and chocolate brown buds. As Amanda hiked and Jordan slipped down the path moving from station to station to learn about each stage of the harvesting process, they were surprised to discover that the sap that becomes maple syrup consists primarily of water, with only a bit of sugar. Interestingly, it takes 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup! In order for the sap to be transformed into syrup, it must be processed at the evaporation station, conveniently the last stop on the tour.
After they finished their education in maple syrup sugaring, it was only right that they were handed another sample of what they had just learned so much about. Served in a tiny paper cup, Amanda and Jordan toasted each other and took what can only be described as a "shot" of maple syrup. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful trip with BU Dining Sustainability.