In Search of Lost Time

Marcel Proust, French novelist, one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century, passed away 100 years ago today: November 18, 1922. As I reflected on Proust’s reach across cultures and his influence over the human experience in the last 100 years, I felt inspired to make Madeleines.

Madeleine cookies

Madeleine cookies

Alas, I forgot all about the linden tea which he dipped the Madeleines into. In case you do not know, Proust’s magnum opus is “In Search of Lost Time,” a seven-volume novel, which showcases over 2,000 characters.

In the famous Madeleine episode, the protagonist remembers dipping his Madeleine cookie into linden tea as a child. The smell and the taste take him back to a lost era.

Linden tea is something I grew up with. The smell and taste of linden tea definitely takes me back to my childhood. The Madeleine cookie is like sponge cake in texture, but it is shaped as an elongated shell. I got two Madeleine pans (not an affiliate link) from Amazon a few years back. My recipe makes 24 cookies, so I wanted to be able to make two pans at once.

Our son is 15, so he can eat. A lot. He ate 12 cookies in one sitting. Our daughter ate five. I had one and kept the rest for my husband, before the kids ate the rest of them. They are good, what can I say?

As I savored this Madeleine, I thought of my own childhood, how I learned French in school, and how my children, despite all my efforts, have never acquired a love for this beautiful language.

Somebody once told me American children just don’t learn other languages (unless both their parents speak a foreign language consistently at home or they travel a lot or they attend a language immersion school). There is no motivation to learn another language when all the world is learning yours (English).

It is sad, but I am learning to accept it. Parenting is a continuous lowering of expectations, said somebody on the 1,000 Hours Outside podcast. When it comes to French, I have given up. Sad smile.

As I go in search of my own lost time with a Madeleine and some linden tea, I remember that my dream is not their dream and my goal is not their goal.

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