Pancakes without maple syrup? A travesty for one Canadian

A grim breakfast in Scotland became Sasha Saunders’ defining patriotic moment

It's maple or nothing

Photograph by Andrew Tolson

I spent last summer working in Scotland at a boarding school. Each morning the staff members and I would sit down at a long cafeteria table to eat our usually very British breakfasts. On one particular morning it was a special occasion—special because there were pancakes (or what Canadians would recognize and refer to as pancakes). Excited by this surprise start to my day, I shovelled more than a few onto my plate and joined my colleagues. “I need the butter and I need the maple syrup!” I enthusiastically announced. Everyone at my end of the table stopped and looked up. “Here’s the butter, but we’ve only got your standard, run-of-the-mill honey or corn syrup.” I won’t lie. At that moment, as a Canadian abroad, this was a travesty. It never occurred to me that people in other countries eat their pancakes sans maple syrup. I can safely say that ever since that grim morning I have always gone a little heavier on the syrup when served pancakes or French toast. I remember my colleagues were all shocked by my extreme and evident dismay when I heard I’d have to eat my pancakes plain for the first time ever. I couldn’t quite explain it to them. It was just a Canadian moment.

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