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Monday, May 17, 2010
Continuing from Madeleine Medley Episode 1...
" And suddenly the memory appeared. That taste was the taste of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because that day I did not go out before it was time for Mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie would give me after dipping it in her infusion of tea or lime blossom. The sight of the little madeleine had not reminded me of anything before I tasted it; perhaps because I had often seen them since, without eating them, on the shelves of the pastry shops, and their image had therefore left those days of Combray and attached itself to others more recent; perhaps because of these recollections abandoned so long outside my memory, nothing survived, everything had come apart; the forms and the form, too, of the little shell made of cake, so fatly sensual within its severe and pious pleating- had been destroyed, or still half asleep, had lost the force of expansion that would have allowed them to rejoin my consciousness. But, when nothing subsists of an old past, after the death of people, after the destruction of things, alone, frailer but more enduring, more immaterial, more persistent, ,more faithful, smell and taste still remain for a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, upon the ruins of all the rest, bearing without giving way, on their almost impalpable droplet, the immense edifice of memory." - Swann's Way, In Search Of Lost Time, Translated by Lydia Davis.
Indeed, how often have I argued with L when he would adamantly proclaim that KL food can beat Singaporean food - hands down - anytime. I used to protest to no avail. Finally one day, I stopped protesting and tried,in my most objective disposition, to explain to him how taste often transcends beyond the tastebuds- for very often our taste preference is already molded by childhood habits, lineage and most potent of all, memories. I remember him relenting a little and got a little pensive. He still likes to take a jibe at Singapore food from time to time but I think he is less vehement nowadays (or so I feel).
Indeed, as confirmed by the above passage, Proust's earlier Madeleine epiphany was really a lineage to his forgotten childhood memories. I do really enjoy reading Swann's Way.The book is so fine, so sensitive, so detailed, it is best read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you are not in a hurry to get to anywhere, when you have the time to leisurely peruse and re-visit the sentences to savour the nuances in the convoluted prose. He is especially good at nuancing the seemingly insignificant e.g. he spent literally pages describing about the sensation and the awareness of the drifting state of slumber between dream, sleep and wakefulness. He also struggled over a few pages to rationalise, to understand the sensation he felt when he partake of that spoonful of Madeleine with tea... before eventually confronting his childhood memories...he is one fiercely introspective man!
Coming to the second episode of my Madeleine Medley - I choose to work with the punnet of Kumquats which I had bought from Japan almost a month ago. Suprisingly they kept quite well in the fridge, though I am sure they would have tasted better if I had chosen to eat them earlier. Nevertheless, these Kumquats (the Japanese call the Kin Kan 金柑) are deliciously sweet. I eat them whole with the thin skin. The citrusy flavour is exceptionally refreshing. The typical Mandeleine uses Lemon zest. I went a little further by pulping the Kumquats and added copious amount of puree into the recipe. This render the Mandeleine moist and tender - and I am sure it is 10X better than Proust's dry, crumbly cookie! hahaha.....and I do prefer this to the Sesame version!
100g Unsalted butter
2 large Eggs
75g Castor sugar
78g All purpose flour
37g Ground almond
3g Baking powder
40g Kumquat Puree ( pulped with skin using a blender)
1. Sift flour, ground almond and baking powder together. Add sugar to the sifted powder and mix well.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs till foamy, add (1) to eggs to blend well. Add Kumquat Puree.
3. In the mean time, heat butter until butter boils and brown.
4. Add hot butter slowly into (2) and mix well until mixture is homogenous.
5. Spoon batter in a greased and floured madeleine mold. Bake for 7mins at 220C.