1. History and origins of the cookie.
The « Madeleine » is a traditional small cake from Commercy (The Lorraine region in the North-East of France) and it was originally brought to Spain by French pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
In 1755 the King of Poland, Duke Stanislas Leszczynski, was joined for an important dinner with personalities of high French aristocracy. During this event the ‘chef’ refused to work after having a dispute with the butler, leaving the kitchen without preparing dessert for the guests.
One of the younger maids named Madeleine proposed to bake a cookie created by her grandmother, to which all of the guests loved.
The grateful King decided to name this impromptu dessert under the name of the young Madeleine Paulmier, and later sent boxes to his daughter Marie, Queen of France and wife of King Louis XV, who spread them in the courtroom, popularizing the new dessert and the town Commercy.
After World War II, the train travelers passing by Commercy, ran to the windows to see the selling of “Madeleines” pushing through the multitude of platforms, singing from the rooftops the benefits of the goods that were in its large wicker baskets. Since then the popularity of the dessert has continued to grow and to this day remains in the memory of the French as synonymous with good company, good conversation, taste of home, and hot drink.
2. Marcel Proust’s Madeleine
In the early twentieth century French writer Marcel Proust implies the « Madeleine » in a indoor scene famous for his work « In Search of Lost Time » (1913-1927).
Of the seven novels that are « In Search of Lost Time », « Swann’s Way » (1913) is the one that initiates the series. In the selected fragment, one of the best known of his work, the taste of a Madeleine dipped in tea arouses in the narrator’s memories of his childhood. The cake, dipped in a cup of tea, suddenly becomes not only a trigger of memory, but they do return to their childhood moments:
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence ; »
(From the book “Swann’s Way”, Marcel Proust, 1913)
Since then, the “Madeleine” has become the symbol Proustian evocative of pleasure of the senses. Now Marcel Proust’s Madeleine is a legend in its own right.
3. Ritual of Proust:
1° Bring to your lips a spoonful of tea, coffee or hot chocolate in which soften had left a piece of classical or combined Madeleine
2° Close your eyes and enjoy the moment …