In search of lost lime.

Today is Bon Appegeek’s second anniversary. I’m marking the day with a long post that has taken more than two years to write. There’s a recipe at the end. I promise.

In search of lost seedsAfter several years of on-again off-again reading, I finally started volume 4 of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), entitled Sodom and Gomorrah. After you spend your life reading mostly English and American literature, French literature is a shock to the system. I should have suspected something back in junior high when every single one of Guy de Maupassant’s characters engaged in rampant adultery or random copulation, in light of which I wonder why I didn’t read more French literature. Have I mentioned the whores? It should not surprise me that Proust covers these scandalous topics and augments them with the gomorrahesque twist, a popular American dance in the fifties (I might be wrong about that).

My complaint about Proust, wonderful writer though he is, is that he often writes about fine dining but rarely describes the food. He doesn’t even include photos. Recipes? Forget it. Oh sure, he can write ten pages about his love of hawthorn flowers and twenty pages about the beauty of a church facade, but an author who has nothing to write about, say, the delectable sauce atop a succulent pheasant, won’t get read as quickly as he might. Yet many readers, botanists and architects probably, claim he was brilliant.

In search of lost leavesProust’s greatest contribution to food writing was to glorify the madeline. I read the famous passage with all due attention and was riveted by it—not because of the madeline, which I’d already baked and read about a great deal by then (food bloggers adore madelines)—but because of the unusual tea he drank with it. Nobody discusses this magical elixir. True, the tea alone didn’t trigger Proust’s epiphany, but it did dissolve the madeline and release the flavor that would catapult the shell-shaped cake into food blog stardom and forever alter literary history. You’d think the tea would get at least as much attention as Robin gets in the shadow of Batman. (Nothing about Sodom or Gomorrah implied by that Batman and Robin reference. Until this parenthetical.)

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Cookies, chihuahuas, and cartwheels.

A mini-van pulled into my driveway. This could mean only one thing. I pried my butt out of my chair and flew down the hallway with the grace of a gazelle bounding across rice fields in the Orient. Are there gazelles in the Orient? It doesn’t matter. My body launched into a triple cartwheel and landed on the banister, then I slid down it with my hands in the air and landed with a back flip and a petroleum jelly smile. Ta da!

I opened my front door to the Girl Scout of Few Words and, more importantly, her cookies.

Let me interrupt this Girl Scout cookie story with another Girl Scout cookie story. When I was a nine-year-old Brownie I was so shy that the concept of selling cookies to total strangers door-to-door made me want to cry, throw up, and hide under the bed. A non-scout friend tagged along for moral support and ended up doing all the talking for me, probably because she saw my face and realized that if she didn’t, I would cry at her, throw up on her, and hide under her bed. She was a good friend, even if she did teach me new four-letter words in her spare time.

Caramel coconut bitsAt one house we sat for fifteen minutes while a woman and her elderly father pored over every cookie in the brochure. I awkwardly petted their yapping pet chihuahua on the head. It passed out to worship at the feet of the chihuahua goddess I’d suddenly become. Nervous and not accustomed to dogs, I ignored it. It loved me anyway because goddesses, even chihuahua goddesses, are always aloof, you know.

Meanwhile the woman and her father asked questions that I didn’t know how to answer. I hadn’t tasted the cookies yet and my friend had already recited the cookie sales script. Why did they have to ask me stuff? Why couldn’t they just leave me alone?

So when the Girl Scout of Few Words first showed up on my doorstep in January, I could relate to her pain. Yet I still made the mistake of asking questions that she didn’t know how to answer either. “What are the lemon cookies like?” I’d asked.

“They have, um, they’re lemon.” I’m not a salesperson, her eyes pleaded. The Organization is making do this so that I can wear a badge that will make it easy to rank my kind. Please order and let me go.

I saw the look, remembered the chihuahua, and decided not to ask a follow up question about the cinnamon cookies. We all know what her answer would have been anyway: “They have, um, they’re cinnamon,” possibly followed by a deep sigh.

When she and her dutiful parental mini-van showed up with my order, the desperate look in her eyes hadn’t changed.

“Hi!” I said, a little breathless from the few rounds I’d done on the pummel horse before I opened the door.

“Hi.” You know what to do. I know what to do. There’s no reason to bring conversation into this.

I paid and took my two boxes of Thin Mints and two boxes of Caramel de Lites off her clipboard.

“Thank you,” she said. I’m now done vocalizing for the rest of my life.

I don’t buy Girl Scout cookies because I enjoy them, although I do. I buy Girl Scout cookies because nobody did anything to me while I was selling them that warranted my crying, throwing up, or hiding under the bed. For that I’m grateful, and I owe it to other nauseated girls on the verge of tears to buy their cookies too.

By the way, I did not scrape up those gooey caramel coconut bits from the Caramel de Lites and lick them off my fingers. That’s appalling behavior that I do in secret on my own time without sharing the sordid details with readers.

Some dreams do come true.

When I was a child, the old Willy Wonka movie fueled fantasies about candy teacups, lickable walls, and chocolate waterfalls. That movie probably helped thousands of dentists buy Rolexes. Good for them. My obsession with sweets faded, but the sight of big candy, cool candy, and lots of candy still reminds me of the days when just thinking about sugar made me giddy.

Recently I placed an order for 5 pounds of cocoa and 11 pounds of white chocolate for the wedding cake. I’d never purchased bulk chocolate before and didn’t quite know what to expect. The package arrived with two big bags of cocoa, pretty boring as candy goes. But the white chocolate, all 11 pounds of it, came packed into one enormous solid brick. When I grunted just to pick it up, I knew I could finally fulfill one of the greatest fantasies of all time—bite into a candy bar more than twice the size of my head. And I have a big head.

Oh no she didn’t.

White chocolate

Oh yes she did!

Just a bite