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.
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.
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.
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.
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.