Plogues et Cretons LbNA # 17298 (ARCHIVED)
|Placed Date||Aug 6 2005|
|County||New Brunswick, CAN|
|Last Update||Oct 10 2008|
Before you begin this search, you'll probably want to know a little about Plogues et Cretons. Plogues (pronounced ploy) are buckwheat pancakes, which served - and in some families, still do - as a staple food for the residents of the St. John Valley of northern Maine/southern New Brunswick for many generations. These aren't just any buckwheat pancakes, though. Not only is the recipe distinctive (made with a combination of flours, both cold and boiling water and cooked on just one side), but the variety of buckwheat used is found only in the Valley. Try using buckwheat flour from anywhere else and your plogues are just not, well, true plogues.
Plogues may be topped with butter and local maple syrup like any other pancake, but those in the know choose molasses if selecting a sweet accompaniment. If the plogues are served as a main dish, however, the most likely topping is cretons (crehTOHN), a spiced ground pork spread that's unlike anything you've had before if you've never been a guest at the table of plogue-loving hosts of French-Canadian descent. A little like deviled ham only far more tasty, cretons is the perfect complement to a hot, yellowish-green plogue fresh off the cast iron skillet.
Unless you're planning a trip to the St. John Valley, you're not likely to find plogues or cretons at your local grocery store or bistro. Your best bet is to cultivate a friendship with someone with the connections to import the goods and the knowledge to prepare them. Trust me, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, blueberry filled or not, will never seem as appealing once you've had plogues spread thickly with butter and molasses or cretons. I'm hungry just thinking about a plate of them right now.
If you'd like to find some Plogues et Cretons for yourself, head out to St. Basile le Grand church in Saint Basile, New Brunswick, right next to the larger town of Edmundston (and across the river from Madawaska, Maine). You'll find the church at 321 rue Principale. Across the street, an old cemetery overlooks the St. John River. At the downhill base of the cemetery are two small cabins, one the Alexis Cyr house, the other a recreation of La Chapelle des Pionniers, the log cabin chapel that the Acadian pioneers built in 1786. A plaque outside the chapel reads "En hommage aux pionniers du Madawaska premieres familles arrivees en 1785" (in honor of the pioneer first families of Madawaska, who arrived in 1785). For more information about the Acadians and their forced migration from Nova Scotia to the St. John Valley, please read the clues to nearby boxes Chez Nous and Ave Maris Stella.
Plogues et Cretons is accessible even if the cemetery gates are closed. The best place to park is in the church lot across the street. Walk down any of the cemetery paths (or the gravel road that ends at the chapel, if the cemetery gates are closed) and make your way to the chapel's front door. Walk along the right side of the building (the side closest to the train tracks and river) until you reach the back corner, still overlooking the river. (If you stand facing the back wall of the chapel with the Alexis Cyr house behind you, the corner you're looking for is the one now on your left, on the river side of the chapel.) Below the logs that cross to form this back corner, behind a small clump of grass and under a small pile of stones, you'll find a generous helping of Plogues et Cretons.
After you've satisfied your appetite, please replace the rocks carefully around the box and check to be sure that it can't be spotted from either the side or the back of the chapel. If you're searching when there's snow on the ground, please don't forget to disturb the snow in lots of other places as well so that casual passersby won't be drawn to this particular corner and accidentally discover the box. When you're done, take a few minutes to explore the cemetery with its many historical stones, some very, very old. If you pass Annette Perreault Theriault's grave (5th row from the bottom and on the opposite side from the chapel), she - and I - would be most grateful if you placed a wildflower on the stone. She is much missed.
Walk back up to the hill to your car, but before you drive away, check to see if the church doors are open (try the one in back on the right side if the front doors are locked). While there's no letterbox hidden there, you will be able to admire the many wood carvings (including the Stations of the Cross and The Last Supper) inside, by legendary local carver J. Claude Theriault. Too bad he's not a letterboxer - with that kind of carving ability, his stamps would certainly be something to behold.
This box is an orphan - please send an update if you find it. Merci beaucoup!