She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called "petites madeleines," which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary 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 mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal . . .
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the meantime, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks' windows, that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the shapes of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness. . .
And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated segment which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine.
--Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
I break off a chunk of the hard, but crumbly whipped butter from the cardboard tub, spread it on a square of egg matzo, and as the flat bread breaks under the pressure of the knife, I am no longer in New York, but in my old house in Berkeley.
I am 11 years old again. As I finish off a piece of matzo with whipped butter, maybe another half of a piece, I run over to the front window to see if the school bus is coming. It's rounding the corner now, so I grab my backpack, say goodbye to my mother, and run outside to catch the bus. The door swings open, I climb up the steps, and off we head to Malcolm X Elementary School . . .
Like Proust's madeleine, this practice of spreading egg matzo with whipped butter triggers a memory of every Passover before. It is an eternal food ritual, perhaps not as profound as Proust's little cake, but nevertheless there, re-enacted year after year.
But why whipped butter? It does taste good, but I never buy it at any other time. I have only my own memory for reference. Only for Passover, and only for egg matzo. Where does this strange practice come from? Do others share in it as well?
I searched online and found one whipped butter and matzo compatriot here:
Real whipped butter. There's only one time of year you'll find it in my refrigerator -- Pesach. To me, sitting down Pesach morning with a cup of coffee, a box of matzah, a tub of sweet butter and a few different flavors of jelly is as essential to the holiday as the "Mah Nishtanah."
And another here:
I like matzah and whipped butter as much as the next guy -- but given a choice between my wife's home baked challah and matzah, the matzah wouldn't have much of a chance.
I like matzah and whipped butter as much as the next guy. So, maybe I'm not alone in my affection for whipped butter and matzo. Are there still others out there? And if so, why whipped butter?