Madeleine's Cafe & Patisserie has a startlingly baby-blue French-style storefront that was charming and bright enough to pierce through the heavy fog of my hangover (thanks, Baby Bar!), and also to stand out among its dun-colored neighboring stores on Main Avenue. Besides the sky, the cafe was the only other bright-blue thing I'd seen since I arrived in Spokane, which seemed meaningful considering the town's generally dusty-orange hue.
Once inside, I was confronted by a case of French pastries and a refrigerated case of microwavable breakfasty items. My hangover selected the quiche lorraine and home-style potatoes (the former ended up being spongy, the latter too fried), but my heart selected a ginger-molasses cookie.
This cookie looked unlike any ginger-molasses cookie I'd ever seen. The top of it appeared to be a drought field of baked earth dolloped with pools of white crystallized sugar. It looked crunchy-chewy rather than chewy-chewy like its cookie cousins. It was, however, many dollars. I didn't care. I bought it.
The cookie was what it purported to be. It was crunchy-chewy. Subtle in its gingerness but not too powerful in its sugariness. It was beautiful.
I left Madeleine's pleased with what I thought was a quintessentially Spokanite ginger-molasses cookie experience. But then, a few hours later, I found myself staring down a stack of ginger-molasses chocolate-chip (?!) cookies in a glass jar at Atticus Coffee & Gifts.
These cookies looked pillowy-chewy, darkly wonderful—almost healthy. I was initially offended but then subsequently aroused by the bold synthesis of chocolate and ginger. This ginger cookie had to be better than the ginger cookie I'd eaten earlier. I'd been cheated, as Frank O'Hara says, of some marvelous experience.
But rather than taint my desire with knowledge, I allowed the ginger-molasses chocolate-chip cookie to enter the marbled realm of pure possibility, the only place where perfection lives.
Of all the lessons I learned on my day-and-a-half-long sojourn to Spokane, the lesson that the best cookie is the cookie you don't eat sank into my soul the deepest. I don't mean that in any kind of pro-ana way. I just mean I'm never moving to Spokane. It's perfectly fine without me.