Thanks for the add! Gros bisous :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Madeleine", a name, a cake, a song and more...

I always loved the sound of the name “Madeleine”. In French, the succession of warm vowels and soft consonants never fails to evoke “une certaine douceur”, a sweetness of sorts. In my imagination, all Madeleines wear pastel yellow twin sets with pearls.

The most vintage of all Madeleine, has to be Mary of Magdala who of course, Mary Magdalene, who doesnt exactly fit the description I stated above. No sir, she is reputed to have been an adultress whom Jesus cleansed from her demons and to have been the first one to see him resurrected. Some even say that she may have been Jesus's wife, but all this is just historical gossip as we all know. She often is depicted as a penitent, and here by Titian and as quite a stunner.
She is no light weight in religious terms, no sirry! Churches are called after Sainte Madeleine, see La Madeleine, in Paris which was originally a temple built on the remains of a church by Napoleon to pay tribute to his “great army”.
Given all this, it is not surprising that the ultimate cake for penitents should be “madeleines”

The genesis of this cake are uncertain, some say that the recipe dates back to the origins of the Way of St James (St Jacques de Compostelle) when some girl called "Madelaine" baked this lemony sponge cake in a scallop which is a symbol of all pilgrims walking toward Santiago de Compostella.
And here are posh madeleines
Others say that a certain “Madeleine” from Commercy, in the French eastern region of Lorraine, created this recipe for King Stanislaw I of Poland, in the mid 18th century. Who knows, and who gives a damn! BUt here is Julia Child's madeleines de Commercy recipe, and really if you don't have the right molds, just bake them in muffin cases like these.

 But I had my fair share of these when I was a teenager, as my first boyfriend originated from Commercy, and of course each time the parents visited there they would come back with a huge bag of “madeleines de Commercy”. I ate so much of these at that stage that I could not face another madeleine for years after we split up. But dear reader, ler me reassure you, I could once again demolish a plate of these no problem.
I long for these needless to say. Who wouldn't? But of course I also do because it is associated with happy times of my teenage years. This is a very fragrant little cake that also got given its stamp of approval by no less than Marcel Proust himself, one of the most revered authors of 20th century France.
She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…
— Remembrance of Things Past, Volume 1: Swann's Way
This passage, which describes what the act of dunking a madeleine in his tea opens up for the narrator, became instantaneously world famous, and is refered to as the “episode of the Madeleine”, because of its literary acknowledgment of the role of involuntary memory in every day life. A recall function we all have, but whcih is not deliberate. This was of course very much in the spirit of a time when Freud and others discovered the many hidden layers of our psychology.

But there is of course another very famous Madeleine in literature. Many of us are familiar with this classic of children literature, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.
If you want to listen to a slighlty altered and darker version of Madeline, please listen to Werner Herzog tell this story.
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I leave you today with another very well know Madeleine and a song, Jacques Brel's Madeleine, I even found a version with English subtitles. And forget about what I said about the sweetness of Madeleine in my introductory sentence. No offense to any potential Madeleine readers out there, but this one is a bitch, with a capital B!


16 comments:

La Lilloise said...

Hello Girl! Thanks for your comments on my blog! I'm happy you follow me!
You have a great blog! i'll be back!

xoxo, La Lilloise.

Danièle said...

Thanks, and keep on taking pix girl!

Todd Winkels said...

I really your article! I'm real curious to try one of these cakes.

Annushka said...

I madly love pies and I dream to try that I have seen in these photos, it is my dream!!!))) you so are beautiful and lovely!!!

ORIGINAL SEED said...

this is freaky!! i was youtubeing madeline liek yesterday!

Jamil S.P. said...

Merci pour visiter mon blog et pour ses mots si aimables, Danièle. Vôtre blog est très joli, agréable et il nous présente un contenu véritablement interessant. Félicitations, au revoir! :-)

Danièle said...

Thank you all for the encouragement. Much appreciated :-)

bird brains said...

I babysit a little girl named Madeline.
Her mother and everyone else call her "Maddy" all the time, but I insist on Madeline.
I love it!

Kitschmoog said...

ce blog est vraiment fabuleux , riche en articles , en art, en couleurs et en idées ... je m'incline !

Rebelde said...

Hola Daniéle, perdona por no escribirte en inglés, no lo domino muy bien, quería agradecerte tus comentarios en mi blog y decirte que es un placer pasar por el tuyo. Como suelo decir con aquellos a los que sigo, nos vemos.

Saludos.

bird brains said...

I've never heard of boardwalk empire!! I'm going to have to check that one out!

Kitschmoog said...

Petite coincidence sur les madeleines , mon ex beau père était artisan biscuitier dans les années 80 et faisait certainement les meilleures madeleines que j'ai jamais goûtées de ma vie, hélas il n'a pas su se vendre ailleurs que localement ni se faire connaître médiatiquement ... je n'ai pas saisi non plus cette valeur qui aurait mérité un super packaging et une réussite " commercy...ale "

Danièle said...

ahahaha bon jeu de mots.
Et oui, je crois que pour les Francais la madeleine n'est pas vraiment e qu'elle devrait etre par rapport a disons les macarons ou les cup cakes(desolee, je ne sais pas faire les accents sur ce clavier, je suis aux US en ce moment.)

Ginger said...

What an amazing post! I've never had a madeleine but anything that goes so well with tea I must try. I am familiar with Madeline the little red haired girl as I had Madeline books as a child. I must say that Werner Herzog's version of the story is quite entertaining...."the tiger dreams only of death." Thanks so much for sharing this with us, looking forward to reading more. Thanks as well for your comments over at the Cardboard Sea, much appreciated.

Kitschmoog said...

Marcel PROUST , The ANNA MAGDALENA BACH little book ! and also LA MADELEINE a great town of the Suburb of Lille !..
pretty name !

Ginger said...

Oh hi, it's me again. I've left you a little something over at my blog, in fact it happens to be an award! Stop over and see for yourself! http://sailingoveracardboardsea.blogspot.com/