Ineffable Word

LA MADELEINE DE PROUST

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After several drafts attempting to write a post on the new year and the #OneWord365 theme, I have decided to let go it go (cue Frozen montage) for the moment and instead talk about a far more interesting and exciting  subject (to me at least) that has lately arisen in my life.

About a year and a half ago, in one of the many, many French classes I attended, I was presented with a short excerpt of a book called Du côté de chez Swann,  by Marcel Proust,  where the author talked about this little gateau shaped like a seashell, which he used to eat with his aunt accompanied by tea and how the very same cakes, when presented to him many years later recalled all those memories from his childhood that he had forgotten long ago.

Clearly the passage stuck in my mind (or I wouldn’t be referencing here today) but I thought about it less and less until I completely forgot about it,  because let’s just say that the multiple bakeries in Quito, Ecuador, being for the most part devoid of obscurely known French sponge cakes did not do a lot to stir my memory. Until last week, that is.

Last semester after I was mostly done with my French as a Second Language class, the professor told us of an optional course we could take this semester. We could either take FSL 2100 and continue on our merry way through the path of traditional academia towards potential mastership of the French language, or we could apply, interview, and potentially get chosen for an internship where we would have the opportunity to learn French through a more hands-on method. Learning by experience, if I may. (Seriously though, that is the name of the course: Français par l’experience).

During the interview we were asked a plethora of questions in order to place us with the right association like, what are your hobbies? (Easy reading!) And do you like working with kids? (To which I boldly and 100% falsely answered yes!) Luckily and to my greatest delight, I was placed in GREF, an editorial company housed in our very own Glendon.

For me, the admittedly bibliotaph and confirmed logophile, it is my ideal position, I get I get to sort through, research, and basically just be surrounded by books and literature all the time. And what would I find during my very first meeting with my supervisor but little seashell shaped cakes that almost seemed too familiar? Alain, my supervisor, showed them to me in order to introduce my first assignment, find the passage that mentioned the madeleines. I didn’t recognize them immediately, I have to confess, for I was only shown a picture of them in a PowerPoint presentation long ago and had not encountered them since. Yet their estrange shape bothered me until Alain asked if I knew what they were, when it suddenly sprung on me, Proust! Easy to say that any concerns I had hoarded up until then about me fitting in at GREF disappeared with this hint to literature. What’s best, this opportunity challenges me, not only to be resourceful and responsible, but it also forces me to speak, read, and breathe, and live in French. Which is all I ever wanted.

The madelienes by the way? Taste absolutely wonderful.

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