Friday, May 25, 2012

The power of a simple cookie

Where the ordinary ceases to be ordinary

Anyone writing memoir is familiar with the passage from Proust where his memory is suddenly inflamed by madeleines, a French cookie.
And so madeleines have become an icon, memory wrapped up in the human senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. We understand that most of what we recall is channeled through at least one or two of these.

So what are these madeleines which evoked the Master of Memoir?

A visitor the other day from France was in the kitchen making us a treat—a butter cookie. There are plenty of ways to mess up a butter cookie, but the ingredients are fairly basic: butter, sugar, flour. You can flavor with almond, lemon, or vanilla. I picked up the recipe, written in French, and suddenly was inflamed: madeleines!

The taste was far less exciting than the mere thought—yet I savored them for days.

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