I like to think I have become somewhat of a macaron connoisseur during my time in France. I most certainly judge the quality of an establishment based on their macarons. Does the person behind the counter use white cloth gloves or tongs or only their bare hands to serve them? Brown paper bag, cellophane bag with a ribbon or a box? Are they too crunchy, too soft, too much filling or of indistinguishable flavours?
(I work less than 12 hours a week: I have a lot of time on my hands to ponder such matters.)
I like the perfect symmetry of a macaron and the smooth, unblemished surfaces. But mostly, I like feeling like Marie Antoinette.
I also love that macarons hold the same cheering-up qualities as a square of good dark chocolate. I think that’s quite impressive for a biscuit, albeit, a biscuit steeped in history and cultural icons. After I spent €250 on a pair of beautiful Italian leather boots and left the shop in near hyperventilation, the only way to come to terms with my gross over spending was to buy 6 macarons from the nearest patissière and eat them one after the other while I waited for my train, looking like a girl on the verge of a mental break down. I felt much better after that.
I remember the first time I tasted a macaron. I was 17 and on holiday with my family in Paris and blindly unaware of celebrated French institutions like Fauchon, Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. We treated ourselves to a box of Ladurée macarons and ate them walking around Place de la Concorde. I remember the pistachio flavour the most clearly as it was like nothing I had ever tasted before: salty and sweet and the most unusual shade of green.
I include the above photos as an apology to the macaron forefathers for the confession I am about to make. Last weekend I bought 6 macarons from a McCafé. And I admit I was pleasantly surprised: clear cut flavours, bright colours and they even came in a box. It is true that the romantic luxury of Marie Antoinette had diminished, but maybe I should stop being such a macaron snob…