Proustian moment

The sense of smell is so amazing and strange. I’m sitting in a chilly corporate apartment in midtown Manhattan, facing a bare wall and an aggressively contemporary lamp. But a foot and a half to my left is half a brioche, left over from breakfast, and every so often a whiff of it hits me. The smell makes me feel like I’m in France, with the crazy host family I stayed with when I was 13. I can see the heavily padded silk walls of the living room, and the corner you turned to go into the bright, narrow kitchen of their townhouse. I need to figure out what it is in certain pastries, combined with butter, that smells like France.

6 thoughts on “Proustian moment”

  1. Ah, Kate. Reminiscent. Bored? Nostalgic. I too have those experiences, all quite pleasant, of getting a smell of something which transports me far, far away…but each of these experiences is much to brief. Is it a way of our brains trying to tell us to get the hell away from whereever we are…as if it is some sort of evolutionary “left over”? Who knows!
    By the way….what does “proustian” mean??

  2. Kate, I just found your delightful blog, I just love it! I will post a link from my blog to your site. Looking forward to many more wonderful post.

  3. I feel the same way about anything raspberry. We drank raspberry tea late night at our host family’s house when we didn’t go out and framboise beer when we did. Such a strong smell and produces such strong memories

  4. Thanks, All the Best! I really appreciate it!

    Nola, isn’t it amazing? It’s always baked goods that do it for me, not shocking considering 1) France and 2) my obsession with pastry.

    Kabir, Proust famously wrote about the scent of a madeleine cookie throwing him into a vivid reminiscence of his childhood. It’s sort of a pop culture touchstone at this point!

  5. Sorry, just have to get this off my chest: surely, a madeleine is in no sense whatever a cookie. It is a small cake.

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