The Soon-To-Be-Extinct Meme

Kevin at Seriously Good tagged me with this, The 2006 Food Challenge of This Year I Dare! You’re supposed to talk about things you’re going to do different in the kitchen this year.
Here’s a few…

Garbage Bags
I’m only going to buy premium, top-quality garbage bags this year. No more el-cheapo, whisper-thin bags that you could read Le Monde through.
I generate mounds of fruit peelings, coffee grounds, egg shells, and all sorts of other icky stuff that doesn’t exactly get any better if it sits around for a few days or so. The last thing I want on my trip to the garbage room in my building is another accident in the elevator. Trust me. Having your garbage spill in an enclosed space crammed full of your fancy Parisian neighbors, where your every single move is scrutized, really sucks.
Like cheap toilet paper, that’s not one of the places you want to skimp on quality.

I’m going to master le Madeleine. And I promise not to mention ‘Proust’ in the same paragraph as the word ‘madeleine’…ever.


Yes, we all know he wrote extensively about eating one. But was he kind enough to include a recipe?

What a jerk.

Vanilla Extract
I made the sorry error of buying cheap vanilla extract when I was in the US. Pure vanilla extract made from vanilla beans and alcohol is unavailable here. (Yes I do know, I’ve searched exhaustively. Please don’t leave comments that I don’t know where to look. The American-stores don’t count; I’m not paying those prices for tiny bottles of vanilla, the way I go through it. Read the ingredients. They all contain sugar, or no alcohol, and area labeled arôme, which ain’t pure extract.)

I was mesmorized by everything that’s available at Trader Joe’s on a recent visit to San Francisco.
People brag to me all the time, “I buy vanilla extract at Trader Joe’s! It’s so cheap! It’s only $4.99 per bottle! What a bargain!”, they go on and on and on and on…


So I arrive back in Paris, twist off the top, and take a sniff. Phew!, this stuff smells like pure alcohol with maybe the idea of vanilla somewhere vaguely in the background.
Trader Joe’s has a lot of very good things, but their vanilla isn’t one of them. Nor is it a bargain. Cheap food that doesn’t taste good is no bargain.
And you may quote me on that. Or have it tatooed on your chest.
Or wherever you want.


Then I checked at and their Bourbon vanilla is the same price when you buy a quart. And believe me, it’s amazing. And a quart lasts me about a month. Especially when I’m making all these madeleines.

(Yes, there is shipping, but since if you live somewhere that you don’t get charged 10.21€ for calling customer service, you can afford to spring for it…)

I promised not to tag anyone for a meme anymore. It’s like getting a chain letter. You feel guilty for not answering it, and you feel like an idiot if you do. So I’m not going to tag anyone.

Ok…on second thought, I’m going to tag Michele and Cindy, just to be a brat.

Is that bad?

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  • January 13, 2006 4:09pm


    “Like cheap toilet paper, that’s not one of the places you want to skimp on quality.”

    Congratulations! I actually laughed out loud.

  • January 13, 2006 4:13pm

    Yes, its wrong.. very very wrong.. You might have to give me some of that vanilla just to regain my friendship.. And to think I plied you with a Herme macaron today and this is how you repay me? Shocking..

  • January 13, 2006 4:15pm

    Kevin: You laughed out loud?
    And I didn’t even get nominated in the ‘Humor’ category!

    Michele: You must think I’m a cheap date. One tiny Pierre Hermé macaron (no matter how fabulous it was…) does not relieve you of being targeted for the dreaded meme.

    Now get to work…

  • Alisa
    January 13, 2006 4:36pm

    I giggled out loud!

    Why weren’t you nominated in the humor category? Who’s decision was that?

  • January 13, 2006 5:12pm

    It seems that Proust didn’t even know much about madeleines at all, according to this article, which you may already know .

  • January 14, 2006 1:34am

    Merci Véronique for the article, very interesting reading and I couldn’t agree more with the author!

  • January 15, 2006 7:54am

    jeez, you have one lunch with a guy, and suddenly you’re gettin’ MEME-ED.

    i’m on it.

  • sylvia
    January 19, 2006 10:21am

    I get my vanilla extract mailorder from … and a whole lot of other things that are hard to find here in Spain.

    They happily ship internationally and I’m not sure if you thought to look to the UK for your traditional needs. :)

  • January 29, 2006 2:00pm

    Someone here in Barcelona recommended me, that’s where they get their vanilla pods and extract. Have you heard/try them before?