The Madawaska cuisine developed under a multicultural influence and the emergence of a clean identity, the “Brayons” lived in a mythical territory, the “legendary République of Madawaska”.
The first settlers were descendants of old Acadians having sought refuge in a country still isolated, the residence of the Malecite, the most faithful ally that the Acadians knew. But they were joined by more and more “canayens” (Quebec) from the Lower Saint-Laurence, attracted by family bonds. The possibility of creating farms in Madawaska also proved a powerful factor of attraction for these farmers, because the ground was rare in the known areas of Quebec. They were also attracted by the employment connected to the forestry launched development throughout the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century by the English, Scottish and American contractors. The Quebec migration took enough width to get the government of New Brunswick worried. In order to stop this French invasion by the north, it sought to populate with European, British or Scandinavian ethnic groups. That is how they financed the settling of Scottish and Irishman in the area of Madawaska.
The old cooking techniques required much time; the preparation of the dishes was long, slow and meticulous. This traditional cooking is an oral inheritance: there were no cookbooks at the time. Culinary know-how was transmitted from mother to daughter, with the result that each area had its dishes and each housewife – her specialty.
Breeding grounds, rivers, agricultural land, forest. One would finds in the kitchen butter, cream, milk, potatoes, fish (salmon and trout), wild poultry, pig, hare, berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), fern (fiddlehead) and maple syrup.
A meal for the poor; how to calm appetites of men who returned from the work fields? – It was the hour of the PLOYE!
This pancake made from whole wheat and buckwheat flour which rather has an odd name, comes from the fact that ployes would “plug” quickly a stomach. Formerly, one would generally make it starting yeast that was preserved from one meal to the other. Made on the wood stove, it was used especially as substitute for the bread. True a “ploye” should not be turned during cooking. Meal of the poor before becoming that of the tourists, the stock of “ployes” had formerly, the place of honor on the table of the large families.
What did one drink?
Most popular of all ancient drinks was “la bagosse”. The years of the prohibition in the United States stimulated the production and the distribution of this illegal water-of-life. The peasants would put their potatoes in a barrel; fermented, passed to the still and there you have a dozen litres of “Bagosse”. Aromatized of a wine sweetened type of Porto, bottled in a “flacon” probably by the women, it becomes the base of “La Flacatoune”.
The kitchen is an art whose origins go up all the way to the most remote locations of humanity, an art which developed with the passing of years thanks to varied experiments, influenced by the geography and the history. The Madawaska area today enjoys an evolved kitchen with recognition for its good old meal that enchanted the plates of our ancestors.