Dietribes: Magnificent Macarons


• Let's hash this out right off the bat: how do you spell macaroon/macaron? To me the most definitive argument references Ladurée, the French house who first popularized these delectable treats. On their English website they spelled it "macaroon" (and who better to know, right?) I double checked it today and it looks like they have reverted to the traditional "les macarons" spelling! Macarons typically refers to the French cookie-sandwich, which is not to be confused with the coconut mounds macaroons, even though most people use the two interchangeably.

• The word itself comes from the Italian maccherone, "from which macaroni is also derived." It is possible that the dessert form was created by a Renaissance Italians or possibly French monks who modeled it after the shape of their belly buttons (I have suddenly lost my appetite).

• It's also possible that macarons did originate in Italy, but were brought to France by Catherine de Medici in the sixteenth century. Presumably the French court went wild for them, and so did, eventually, the rest of the world!

• Macarons are terribly difficult to make well - they can burn easily, have their shells crack on a whim, and must be consumed immediately (that last part is really not a problem though).

• The French, They're Not Like Us: In 2007 McDonald's started selling macarons in its French McCafés in 2007.

• Thanks to "Gossip Girl" (how often will you ever read that phrase?) there has been a resurgence in interest towards macarons in the United States, getting Starbucks and even superstar designer Jason Wu on board with the trend.

• But the French forefathers of macarons are not about to let us ruin their original masterpiece. Ladurée, making macarons since 1862, has launched a store in New York that apparently transports you to the belle-epoque. I have visited Ladurée in Paris, and having tasted their wears can confirm they are magnificent, and without American peer!
• Like gelato, macarons often come in unusual flavors. Pierre Herme, a French pastry chef famous for his macarons, releases a seasonal collection that include such flavors as ketchup and foie gras.

• If you're looking for an accessory to make men and women salivate as you pass, macaron earrings are clearly the way to go.

• One is hard pressed to make macarons into anything that doesn't look positively delicious: macaron pops, for example. Yum!

• Have any of you Flossers made the pilgrimage to Ladurée? (In Paris or New York!) Where do you get your macarons, and what are your favorite flavors? And does anyone make them themselves?

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‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.