Macarons & a Picture of Sébastien

Macarons & a Picture of Sébastien

Carol keeps torturing me with photos and watercolors of macarons over on Paris Breakfasts, and people in her comments keep saying, “What IS a macaron? What does it taste like? Anything like an American macaroon?”

And so, in the interests of gourmandise and of people properly understanding Paris, Blame It on Paris, and my own addiction to Ladurée’s macarons, let me ‘splain.

No.� Let me sum up.

Abandon all ideas based on the English word macaroon. JUST DROP THEM ENTIRELY. This is what we call in the language business a “faux ami” or hypocritical friend. They are not related. They are completely and utterly different. This coconut thing


is most closely related to what the French call a Congolais. (It’s not entirely the same, but at least they’re in the same family.)

The French macaron was, according to Ladurée, invented by a cousin of the family.

Laduree 1

This is how you make it:

Take two slices of heaven and give them a very delicate crunch, delicate and subtle as angel feathers. My heaven is flavored chocolate, I think that goes without saying. You may, if you choose, have a different flavor heaven, but in that case, you and I must sadly accept that we will someday part.

Because we are not going to the same heaven.

Macaron au chocolat

Ladurée, the most famous producer of macarons, has an extravagant quantity of other flavors, like caramel, or raspberry, or pistachio. These are, in my opinion, a bit like Dante’s spheres. They’re good enough, but there’s only one Ninth Sphere, and that’s the chocolate one. Still…I just mention they exist.

Macaron �  la menthe

BETWEEN these two slices of slightly-crunchy heaven, layer a generous helping of temptation, just the most luscious, silkiest, smoothest sinfully-est ganache you can possible imagine. If you do not know what ganache is, GO MAKE SOME RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Ganache is ridiculously easy, and yet it’s one of those words that just slides off the tongue, so that you can go around saying it to those not in the know and impress the Hollywood out of them: “Oh, I just livened it up with a little ga-NASH, so simple.”

And you will be telling the TRUTH, but if they have never made ganache themselves, they will think you are being modest, or maybe that you are like one of those people that continually torture me saying, “Oh, please come over for dinner but ignore our house, it is so messy.” And then when I get there, it’s so clean it makes my house look like a landfill.

(Yes, if you have EVER invited me over for dinner, I am probably talking about you.)

Still, even though I am a frequent maker of ganache, I do not hold a candle to the ganache makers at Ladurée. Or Jean-Paul Hévin. Or Fauchon. Or anywhere else you are likely to get macarons. But…who does? That’s why they are the names they are.

Of them all, Ladurée is my favorite. The shop on Rue Royale, the original, is truly a Must Stop for any visit to Paris.


Note: All of these photos are willfully stolen off the internet, the macaroon from an unidentifiable Google search and the rest from Ladurée, which had better not complain about it, considering the publicity I’ve given them.

Carol drove me to it. She kept sending me emails telling me I should include more visuals on my blog posts (ESPECIALLY more visuals of Sébastien), which is all very well for her to say.

Myself, I am a writer. Writing is one of my few skills. When I try to take pictures, it’s…well, it just never turns out.

[Picture by me taken of Sébastien. There. I hope you are happy with my attempts to fulfill requests for a photo of his entire self. This was a serious effort, by the way. I was trying to get a good picture of him to send his mother.]

In fact, we have not one but three state-of-the-art-at-time-of-purchase digital cameras, the first bought in the hopes that I could actually take good pictures with it and the next two bought in the hopes that the Artist in the Family would fulfill his promise to carry it with him everywhere and take pictures for me. “If only I had this one, I would. The other one, that I personally picked out and explained I needed because it was the best of the best and if I had it I would always carry it with me and take pictures for you…turned out to be too big. Who wants to carry that around all the time?”

The one he has now is about the size of a cell phone, and you would think Sébastien could carry it in his pocket and ready for every eventuality. But, in fact, it lies on his desk. Right next to the cell phone…

So, see, ladies…he has flaws.

And if you want to see some fantastic original art (and original photos) of macarons, do make sure to check out Paris Breakfasts.

  • Your hubby is just too cute. I know you think you were being all sneaky posting that pic, but some of us are married to computer geeks, and they do things like install Linux on your box, and Linux comes with this amazing photo editor called the Gimp, and well… your hubby is just too cute!

    And thanks for the clarification of the macarons. i was picturing the American version, and really couldn’t get why they were so great. Now – I totally get it. And just for the record, I can already tell that i’ll see you in Heaven. We seem to be on the same page with that one. 🙂

    March 5, 2007 at 1:30 pm
  • dee, you should post that edited picture. Laura is being VERY sneaky. Almost a tease, even.

    I’m glad to know I can eat macarons–especially those chocolate ones. I cannot eat MACAROONS because I am allergic to coconut, which is okay, because it’s not a hardship, not eating coconut. Not eating chocolate, on the other hand, would be terrible.

    March 5, 2007 at 2:33 pm
  • Dee, you are a Big Fat Cheater, and you are in Trouble! I shall wreak vengeance somehow, just you wait.

    Yes, no coconut in the French item. I am getting so hungry that I have been looking at recipes and might have to try to make my own. It doesn’t look too complicated, actually. They won’t be in the same ballpark, but they might at least do.

    March 5, 2007 at 3:20 pm
  • Well, I’m sure the pistachio heaven is close enough that I will be able to wave to you.

    Still working on the Paris trip. Getting there is not a problem, but I’m trying to convince my husband to come too. That’s the tricky bit.

    March 5, 2007 at 5:04 pm
  • Can I help it my husband is a Geek and forced me to learn how to use all sorts of programs, while I scowled and ranted “When will I ever use something called the GIMP, killmenow”? No. I can not. So back off there, miss thing with the cute French man, or I’ll do what Amy suggests and post that pic for all to see.
    Amy, I’m borrowing your nefarity here for a bit, and am actually thinking of demanding more truffles in exchange for NOT posting the pic of Sebastien. Hmmm. Now THAT would be good, yes?

    Oh my, I haven’t even thought of being sneaky like that in so long that it actually made me feel kinda funny. Like a hollow place in the pit of my stomach. Wait. That was just hunger pangs. I’m on an all chocolate diet and I’m out right now. Must head to the store for more soon. Very soon. Right after I decide if I should enlarge a certain picture before I post it.

    (you know i’m only kidding, right? Well, mostly kidding, anyhow. 🙂 )

    March 5, 2007 at 5:45 pm
  • Pistachio IS the next best. You may not believe it but once in a while–not very often–I would get a flavor other than chocolate, and when I did, it was always pistachio.

    No blackmail, dee! We do not give in to GIMP-wielding truffle-eaters. We must resist! (If you’re wondering about the royal “we”, it isn’t really the royal “we”, it’s just that I am now the President of my own country and am speaking on behalf of the nation. I get that way sometimes.)

    March 5, 2007 at 6:10 pm
  • Laura! Laura! Look at what I found online today! Look at what she’s eating in the photo! French macarons! They do look “to die for”! And just for the record, i want shirt #9. Well, I don’t fancy the cut of that shirt so much. But the embroidered saying.

    As for photos of your dear hubby…. I was curious. It seems you are intentionally keeping us in the dark as to his true nature. So I went a-google-ing. He doesn’t happen to have some curious looking horns on his head, does he?

    March 5, 2007 at 7:17 pm
  • Ok, your killing me here! I’m so glad it isn’t those puffy coconut things. No, THESE I need RIGHT NOW! Think they could have them shipped in like an hour? Really, you had me at “ganache.” Caramel sounds really yummy too.

    Oh, and I got my book today. Exactly the pick-me-up I needed! Thank you so much, Laura!

    March 5, 2007 at 7:21 pm
  • And just for the record, I loved the pop-culture-movie reference up there in that post. The more I learn about you, Laura, the more I just adore you.
    No more rhymes now, I mean it!
    Anybody want a peanut?

    March 5, 2007 at 9:28 pm
  • Inigo is the BEST. I believe I could quote his every word.

    Laume, that is a NAUGHTY site. Talk about clever marketing…

    And it may be that Sébastien has a bit of the diabolic…or, at least, it’s a little bit like me and the wicked witch. He likes to pretend to be the villain of the piece. Or play with Photoshop!

    Boy, you people are determined with this photo thing. Now how can I take advantage of this? If only Amy could think of a clever contest via which *I* would get truffles or some other proper bribe, as a reward for which I would have to post a real photo. Hmm….

    March 5, 2007 at 9:48 pm
  • Now you`ve done it…..I have to taste it……this is too much…..if it is not that persistent lady with the Paris Breakfasts, then you…what will I do???

    Well Carol said if I buy her enough Macarons to keep her in style, I can go with her to Paris…..seriously considering it at this stage……HAVE to taste it

    March 6, 2007 at 3:45 am
  • You know, Laura, when I mentioned you were being a tease I WAS thinking along the lines of you calling Joshilyn a tease and then getting the goods out of her, so yes, perhaps some sort of bribery–er, contest–is in order. Hmm…

    That shirt is adorable, but wouldn’t you rather spend $69 on chocolate? Than on a shirt? I’m terrible that way about clothes. There’s only so much I’m willing to pay for clothing that will get all sorts of small-child bodily fluids on it. Laura (& all other foodies), have you heard of these people? My husband brought an assortment back from a business trip in Hawaii (I KNOW. He SAID business. I say “vacation.”) and now I’m hooked but the shipping from Hawaii is crazy.

    Man, I love The Princess Bride.

    March 6, 2007 at 8:31 am
  • Big Island Candies looks yummy! I think I have had some of their stuff before, but not their truffles. $5/truffle. Sigh. We need to start an investigation into what the production costs of these things are. I feel as if they’re exploiting my addiction.

    Those shirts are PSEUDO adorable. Did you read the texts? 🙂

    But me, too, about clothes. I would be FINE in yoga pants and a tank top if I didn’t have Paris to contend with.

    March 6, 2007 at 9:30 am
  • Oh my!!
    Where have I been???
    This is post is WONDERFUL!
    The macaroon vs. macaron story

    Malheureusement,the so-called photo of the so-called Sébastien.. 🙁
    I’m becoming convinced this creation is just that.
    Mind you,of a very creative mind.
    Hey who doesn’t dream of meeting a FRENCH guy in Paris by chance?
    And then writing a book about it?
    Especially if all you meet are macarOns,eavenly as all 36 flavors may be at Ladurée.

    As for taking photos of so-called loved ones to send to their so-called relatives..
    The first lesson is to close in.
    Forget the lovely background.
    Forget even getting their feet in the picture.
    Goforwaist-to-head or even sholders to top of head.
    why am I not convincedby this photo that “Sébastien” exists.
    I think I preferred imagining him…
    Perhaps Dee would be so kind to use her G.I.M.P. to improve and sharpen that photo?

    March 6, 2007 at 9:58 am
  • Laura,
    Number 7 isn’t so bad. But you’re right. With six babes wanting to live in Toyland, I just don’t make clothes purchases like I used to. More than $15 for one piece of clothing? Very. Rarely. Happens.

    Unless it’s shoes. I seem to have gotten hooked on shoes lately. And I’m still lusting after Joss’s new shoes. Ohh, to be able to afford some Jimmy’s. That’ll be the day!

    March 6, 2007 at 12:08 pm
  • Whew. I’m tired and hungry just reading all this talk about men,fashion and cookies…whether coconut of not…count me in! I bought a painting of Carol’s…I got the Laduree boxes…no doubt-they were empty! Not a chocolat to be shaken out! I must go look up your book….I like blame! I mean, Paris.

    March 6, 2007 at 1:48 pm
  • OH! I wanted the Ladurée boxes. That was one of my favorites. I should have known it would have sold already.

    Carol, we resist taunts, too! I know what you’re trying to do. 🙂

    March 6, 2007 at 2:41 pm
  • Laura you can have Laduree boxes toooo!
    There’s always backup…
    No artist worth her macarOns does only one painting of a subject.
    Look at Cezanne’s apples = thousands!
    just wanna see Sébastien’s shoe..not a lot to ask IMO…

    March 7, 2007 at 10:04 am
  • P.S. I must tell you how much I love seeing pictures here!!
    The wonderful progression of macarOns..
    The huge green pistache look like they might attack at any second.
    Perfectly OK with me.

    March 7, 2007 at 10:11 am
  • Oh, my look at all the comments a photo of Sébastien has garnered. He looks just as I imagined.

    That Carol! She tried to get me to send her my macarons once. She would have been sorely disapppointed, as they look nothing like Ladurée’s.

    If I go there, shall I drop your names?

    March 7, 2007 at 9:25 pm
  • Sigh. Alas, for all the times I’ve been to Ladurée, they will not remember me. I was just part of the line! You can drop my name at Le Relais du Vin, if you go. 🙂

    March 8, 2007 at 1:48 pm
  • Many thanks for the help in this question. I did not know it.

    December 10, 2010 at 1:33 pm
  • It still that?

    December 12, 2010 at 2:20 am
  • I consider, that the theme is rather interesting. I suggest all to take part in discussion more actively.

    December 12, 2010 at 7:59 am
  • Yes, correctly.

    December 12, 2010 at 3:20 pm

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