Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dude, Where's the Lime Blossom Tisane?

Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it. - Vladimir Nabokov
It started with a post today on Feministe -- a blog I read fairly frequently (if not everyday). It was Mikey's post on madeleines. Starbucks' madeleines in cello-wrap, or shrink-wrap, or whatever one calls it, complete with pictures and a link to a very interesting Slate article on Proust's Belle Epoque madeleines and one man's attempt to reverse-engineer the recipe based upon hints in the famous madeleine-tea-Aunt Leonie's lime blossom tisane-Combray passage in the first volume of In Search of Lost Time (1).

This lead to some comments about the awfulness of Starbucks' pastries, and the awfulness of their coffee, and their mega-chain evilness (but still how it was oddly comforting to find this mega-chain when out of one's element). Even though I could have put in some digs about how I believe Starbucks is the Wal-Mart of coffee houses (2), my first thought was that I should go home and bake some madeleines. My second thought was I should then blog about it. One of the commentors mentioned that she had seen the madeleine-tea-memory reference many, many times, but only knew of one instance where madeleine was a recurring blog tag to mean "memories" (3). I strongly feel that madeleines require greater blog presence -- of any sort.

I actually own a madeleine pan. I bought it for myself after I first began reading Proust. I've made them only once before, but tonight I'll give it another go.

I'll take pictures, don't fret.

(1) It is NOT translated to Remembrance of Things Past. That title was foisted on Proust's work when it was translated into English. That's actually a phrase that appears in Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 30.

(2) Sorry, but I live in Ann Arbor and frequent an independent coffee house where the owner knows me by sight and name as well as that I want a skim Abianno latte (no foam) every blessed workday morning, the only variation being whether said latte is a "double" or a "triple." None of this "venti" or "grande" B.S. If I ever utter the words "White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino," shoot me, because it won't be me but some pod-spawned alien.

(3) Upon a cursory review of the tagged posts, it looks to me like it means "digressions" or "opening up very large cans of worms," but that's only a cursory review. My reading list has just gotten longer. /sigh


DrHGuy said...

Harumph. So my Madeleines are no more than "opening up very large cans of worms," are they? Well, perhaps.

On the other hand, "opening up very large cans of worms" is a tad long and not portentous enough by half to use as a title for a category, and "digressions" is so 20th century.

For what it's worth, the official description of my Madeleines category follows: In "Remembrance Of Things Past," Prout's memory is triggered by a madeleine cake. On occasion, I find nuggets in books, music, videos, TV, or theater that perform a comparable kind of magic, revealing something beyond their own content. (BTW, I used the correct title for Proust's book, "In Search of Lost Time," for about a month. Almost no one recognized it, and some folks, when they were given the reference, were downright offended. Go figure.)

And, I'll point out that I offer not only madeleines but also Hong Kong egg cakes (Hong Kong Egg Cakes From Reading Calvin Trillin’s About Alice) based on
Trillin’s mention in his book, Family Man, of “… Hong Kong egg cakes - delicacies whose taste I [Calvin Trillin] once described as what a madeleine would taste like if the French really understood such things.”

In any case, I can't help but be enchanted by someone, however madeleine-dismissive she may be, whose blog is studded with almost as many footnotes as my own.

Laiane said...

Oh, heaven, drhguy, I didn't mean to offend! I'm truly looking forward to reading your madeleines (and confess to being quite curious about Hong Kong Egg cakes, too).

He-who-unjams-the-garbage-disposal said...

(burp) They're tasty! But how did Proust feel about chicken enchiladas?