Cracker Barrel. The place where bacon is alway available, the mashed potatoes are downing in white, peppery gravy, and you ask the waitress for extra syrup in those cute little bottles so you can stash them in your purse for later.
Growing up, we went to Cracker Barrel quite often with my grandparents for birthdays, anniversaries, and the just-because meals. I always ordered the chicken-fried steak with green beans, mashed potatoes with white gravy (none of that poopy brown gravy for me!), and biscuits with grape jelly. I’ve never had a problem getting food in, so even when I was 8, I ordered this meal and you better believe I ate every bite. Other family members ordered breakfast items and would send my siblings and I home with the extra little bottles of syrup. And it was the best syrup ever.
When Andrew and I started buying more whole foods and less processed foods syrup was one of those things that kept popping up into all my research. “If it’s pure maple syrup, it’s a great natural sweetener!” “I use syrup in baking!” “I put syrup in my coffee/tea!” I was so confused. Syrup is for pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Mostly for pancakes. I was also intrigued.
So we decided to buy some 100% pure maple syrup a few months back at an Amish store. I was so baffled that it said to store it in the fridge because wouldn’t it get all hard and goopy? It never dawned on me that real maple syrup is stored in trees in the cold temperatures! (Isn’t it funny what you learn about food when you start eating the real stuff?!) So. Here we were with the real deal. And I was a little apprehensive. We’d made pancakes and the only syrup we had in the house was this new, real stuff. Would I be able to tell the difference? Would it taste better than the stuff I was used to? The stuff that, let’s be honest, is anything BUT maple syrup. If it didn’t taste good, we were going to have a pretty lame meal because we didn’t have any backup in the house.
Coming out it was runny, which took me off guard because it had been in the fridge and I expected it to be thick. So it came out a lot faster than I was thinking it would, meaning I poured way more on my pancakes than I meant to. But that’s ok because it was delicious. SO GOOD!
The only sad part about discovering the real/whole food version of something comes when you realize no restaurant (that is in your budget or your family’s list of preferred places) offers the real deal. And can you blame them? People would be knocking down their doors and breaking windows to get to it. There would be riots and stampedes. So restaurants continue to serve the not so good stuff to protect their staff and establishments I guess. For me, this means I don’t enjoy stealing a bite of someone else’s Cracker Barrel pancakes. It also means no stuffing syrup into my purse.
But the real stuff? I’m hooked. Even more so in the past few weeks after I tried it on some Greek yogurt. Can you say amazing?! Because I can and I do every time I have this snack. Which is really often cause a pregnant mama’s gotta eat and I need protein but I crave sweet things. My next adventure will be to make my own iced coffee and add it to that and I think it’s going to be mind-blowing. I’ll let you know when I confirm.
Do you have a favorite maple syrup? Have you tried the real deal?