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The silver lining to the gray cold and blustery cold of New England winter, still in chilly swing, is maple syrup -- that endangered elixir, thanks to global warming pushing production ever farther northward. As Peter Smith points out, Canada overtook production leadership long ago.

But he brings news of a new elixir I can't wait to try: sap soda, which now I look at it ought to be called sapsarilla (at least we could be sure of the origin, unlike the debate over the plant at the base of sarsaparilla). I'm always in search of new sugar sources, and one from my own home territory that promises subtle, birchy sweetness is particularly exciting. As a child in Connecticut, a Yankee godfather figure would take me and my brother and sister to a sugar shack in Stafford Springs, not far from where we lived. As my face bathed in the steam rising from the shallow rectangular metal tubs, I would wonder why I couldn't just drink some of the sap boiling away. Now I'll be able to.

Two exotic meats to try, one close to home and one far: in today's Times, Henry Alford recounts his goat-conversion experience, a moment you might have had, as I did, at a Jamaican restaurant. But now it's turning up in many New York restaurants. In yours? Tell the Nimans, who will be glad that their work is paying off. Next step will be to use one of the recipes, if you can get your butcher to supply the meat.

Not sure I'll be asking my own butcher for pork knuckle, but I'm glad that our resident world traveler Graeme Wood points out its gristly charms--particularly with the kind of brews he had on a recent trip to Bavaria. If you're lucky enough to live near a pub serving the smoked Bavarian beers Clay Risen recently wrote about here, you might even convince them to try serving what's apparently an indigenous companion.