Re-reading Proust. After the madeleine story, he ripples out pictures of childhood Combray, recalls a kitchen discussion about the virtues of asparagus. This unlikely vegetable turns slowly into the perfect mnemonic, proving that anything sensual may serve as a madeleine. I consider how memory is provoked in me. My grandmother’s trays of fruit-mince slice. Her chocolate gingers. Or my mother’s very exotic chow mein, in particular the salty soy sauce. ‘What is patriotism but the love of the good things we ate in our childhood?’ asks Lin Yutang. Asparagus was fine soft, but being Australian we called it ‘sparra’s guts’.