Friday, November 10, 2006

details from yesterday's messy blog

I believe I was a bit negligent in my blogging duties yesterday.

Here are links for Mr. Klein and for the Liebling book.

And, to give you a taste for the Liebling (really, you ought to read it, it is awesome):

From “Westbound Tanker,” at the end of a paragraph about the silence at his meals with Captain Petersen,

Once, in an effort to make talk, I asked him, “How would you say, ‘Please pass me the butter, Mr. Petersen,’ in Norwegian?” He said, “We don’t use ‘please’ or ‘mister.’ It sounds too polite. And you never have to say ‘pass me’ something in a Norwegian house, because the people force food on you, so if you say ‘pass’ they would think they forgot something and their feelings would be hurt. The word for butter is smor.”

“A Good Appetite” (Opening paragraph)

The Proust madeleine phenomenon is now as firmly established in folklore as Newton’s apple or Watt’s steam kettle. The man ate a tea biscuit, the taste evoked memories, he wrote a book. This is capable of expression by the formula TMB, for Taste > Memory > Book. Some time ago, when I began to read a book called The Food of France, by Waverly Root, I had an inverse experience: BMT, for Book > Memory > Taste. Happily, the tastes the The Food of France re-created for me – small birds, stewed rabbit, stuffed tripe, Cote Rotie, and Tavel – were more robust than that of the madeleine, which Larousse defines as “a light cak made with sugar, flour, lemon juice, brandy, and eggs.” (The quantity of brandy in a madeleine would not furnish a gnat with an alcohol rub.) In the light of what Proust wrote with so mild a stimulus, it is the world’s loss that he did not have a heartier appetite. On a dozen Gardiners Island oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sautéed soft-shelled crabs, a few ears of fresh-picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island duck, he might a written a masterpiece.

1 comment:

green clementine said...

My grandmother was called Madeleine, and she was truly an expert in baking them. I wish she had had time to pass on her recipe to the rest of the family.

I may even experience something close to Proust if I ever get the chance to eat such nice madeleines again.

I hope I will. They were divine.