Making Madeleine Memories

I just recalled this story to a good friend a few weeks ago, and now I’ll share it with y’all. When I was in graduate school, one of my professors, Dr. Liliana Zancu, was teaching Modernism, and one of our first assignments was the first volume of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. In it, the narrator is transported to his childhood by the taste of lime blossom tea and a petit madeleine. Before we knew what was in store in the novel, she walked slowly around the room and put a piece of paper on each of our desks. It was a recipe for petit madeleines. She said, “I’d really like it if someone would make these.”

The class was small, but in that moment, she was speaking to me.

Madeleines require a particular pan, and this was the early ‘90s before I could order that pan off the internet. I spent a fair amount of time tracking one down and arrived the next week with the cookies. The look on her face made the entire experience worth it. I hadn’t thought about those cookies in years, but I went to Starbucks that day for a package. They sell them by the register. I had never been able to find the tea in the past but quickly ordered it online to have the full experience. It does not disappoint.

The cookies, of course, weren’t part of my childhood, but they are definitely now a very fond memory. I made them today for the first time in years.

I still have the original copy Dr. Zancu handed out.
Finished Petit Madeleines.
The passage in Swann’s Way.
Madeleine’s in their special pan waiting to be baked.