I returned from my Paris Bastille Day trip with one particular sweet on my mind: the Madeleine. In fact, I have a small–but no less significant–history with the Madeleine, and it had been quite some time since I had enjoyed one so I made up for lost time by consuming a countlessly gluttonous quantity during my visit. They’ve been on my mind non-stop since I returned, a welcome reprieve from my constant chocolate-chip-cookie hankering a (good) chocolate-chip-cookie barren land.
Towards the end of a work lunch during my New York City restaurant PR days, I looked into a basket served as part of the petit-four post-dessert course and retrieved a small, yellow sea-shell shaped sponge cake. I was immediately hooked after consuming it one bite, “what are these?” I had asked. “Madeleines,” a colleague responded, a name which instantly intrigued me because as a child, I adored the Madeline books–spelled differently, I know, but pronounced the same nevertheless. Kismet, perhaps? I not only looked forward to Madeleines during every visit to the restaurant thereafter, but I always kept on the prowl for them going forward.
When I later Googled “Madeleines”, I learned that Marcel Proust had immortalized this treat in his epic seven-volume story, “The Remembrance of Things Past,” and then asked myself, “more kismet?” No, I have not read Proust. Yet. But before I became an Amazon girl, I always walked down the “P” aisle at Barnes and Noble to covetingly eye the individual volumes of Proust’s masterpiece, vowing one day I would read them. I toyed with the idea of buying them and adding to my bookshelf that’s overstuffed with unread books, but I held back because I really would like to read Proust in his mother tongue if possible. French has a slot on my bucket list too that I will get to immediately after I check off, “Mastering Italian.”
At Charles de Gualle Airport, I couldn’t resist buying some Madeleines from the duty free shop which got me through a little less than a week’s worth of breakfast…I can’t have just one in the morning. I wanted more so I decided to take matters into my own hands and have attempted them not once, but twice so far. I’ll save those stories for another time, but I leave you with this: I’m not saying my Madeleines were a monumental success, but I will say they weren’t bad and I didn’t botch them completely; the second time was better than the first, so perhaps I’m slowly by surely on my way to a Madeleine Maven? I will say they turned out much better than my first-ever plum cake attempt–more on that some other time, too. I completely effed that up.