Well, not actually him, (Marcel, I mean) but I did spot a madeleine mention. I was reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan and came across a reference the author made to the ability of a bite of a particular food to bring on a “madeleine moment”. I don’t intend this post to be a book review but I found this book to be a fascinating look at where our food comes from and what it is we are actually eating. Surprise- most of the time, regardless of what we THINK we are eating, we are eating corn- more specifically, corn syrup. A meal at a fast-food joint can be over 90% corn syrup, everything from the hamburger (cows are fed corn, which is not their natural food choice and is very hard for them to digest and they have to be given loads of drugs to keep them from dying from the enforced unnatural diet- keep them alive long enough, that is, to be turned into hamburger) to the fries to the milk shake. There are studies that show that the average American diet is extremely high in corn syrup (high-fructose corn syrup and all the other names they have for it to help disguise it on a food label) and that corn syrup and it’s relatives don’t contain nutrients that our bodies need to sustain not only our bodies but feed our brains. I’m conjecturing here but could this be related to the soaring levels of obesity, autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s…?
Anyhow, back to the sighting. The author had taken his son to a fast-food place so that they could eat a meal there (one of the four mentioned in the title) and his son, Isaac, ordered chicken nuggets. The author says: “For Isaac, the nugget is a distinct taste of childhood, quite apart from chicken and no doubt, a future vehicle of nostalgia- a madeleine in the making.” (p. 112). He doesn’t go on, then, to explain his reference to a madeleine in this context (or any other context) and so I wonder how many readers of this book even know what he is talking about? We, of course, being the avid Marcel Proust readers and sighters that we are, know that he is referring to Marcel’s experience of eating a bite of a madeleine dipped in tea and having an involuntary or unconscious memory occur. Need a refresher on Marcel’s madeleine moment? Click here:
So the author believes that someday, his son will eat a chicken nugget and be transported mentally back in time, in an experience so complete that he will remember exactly where he was when eating the nugget (in this case, in a car), what he saw while eating the nugget (his dad eating a hamburger) and smell what he was smelling while eating said nugget (corn syrup? gas fumes?). Not quite as poetic or as evocative as Marcel’s madeleine moment, but a moment, nonetheless.