Has it ever happened to you that a perfume or a taste suddenly evoked a strong memory in our mind?
This is what Marcel Proust tells in the episode of Madeleines, typical French sweets, short and plump. Similar to mini muffins. One evening on his way home, the narrator is offered hot tea accompanied by a Madeleine. A bite is enough to awaken in him a very strong feeling that brings back childhood memories. This episode therefore gives him the opportunity to reflect on time, death and how to make up for lost time.
I think it’s a really interesting concept and that we can easily apply to our everyday life: for example, has it ever happened to you to go back to the place where you felt a strong emotion, but you were not able to evoke it the second time? On the other hand, if you smell a perfume, taste again a typical food of your childhood or just associated with some strong sensation the result is very different. Smell and taste are somehow much more effective senses for sensory memory than sight. Really curious!
But now let’s go back to the Madeleines episode, which I report in part below:
“When one day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. 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, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses”. Moreover: “And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea”.
Hence a simple sweet that causes a feeling of strong pleasure as it is associated with childhood memories, so as to realize how a single aroma can take you back in time, in a certain sense overcoming time itself.
Personally, the same thing happened to me with Amaretti and that is why I strongly wanted to include them in our product range. I well remember when, going to visit grandparents and an elderly aunt, I found a large plate full of individually wrapped amaretti on the coffee table in front of the sofa. As soon as I arrived in that house, I couldn’t wait for someone to offer them to me along with pear juice. With a full stomach I could then face the classic questions about school and related grades that adorable grandparents always ask to their grandchildren. So for me, Amaretti mean family, sharing, carefree childhood moments.
To include them in our assortment, however, we tried to meet everyone’s needs, thus making them gluten-free and, for the most part, lactose-free. We eliminated the kernels, so that they were healthier and had a greater concentration of almonds, with a more sweet taste. We have also included various flavors such as fruits or cocoa or coffee, or even pear and chocolate chips, my favorite! Yes, because in that amaretto there is my memory of afternoons with my grandparents, with pear juice and chocolate, my other great passion.
In short, in a single pastry, the chance to win time: it’s a very strong thing, isn’t it? And you? What is the food or perfume that alone can evoke memories and strong emotions?