I’ve been preaching it for over a year and now it’s confirmed! The Macaron is the new cupcake.
Yes! You don’t believe me?! Well go check out the food blogsphere or spend a weekend in Paris! Because in that town, Macarons are everywhere. Ladurée. Little bakeries. Chocolatiers. High street chains. At every corner you encounter a Macaron.
So my mission to eat a Macaron in Paris turned out not to be a mission at all, but an ordeal. Because how do you choose which one to eat? They all look so yummy and tempting.. What? Just eat them all? Ha, yeah, right, do you want to pay for them and go to the gym for me? If yes, hand them over. Just kidding. Back to serious Macaron talk. I decided to start at the top and eat my way down (really, really down the food chain, as you will find out in a minute).
First stop: Ladurée. Macaron Heaven. Really. Unfortunately heaven turned out to be overcrowded with tourists and Japanese kids in school uniforms screaming “kawai” at every single macaron. I felt like in the mosh pit at that Slipknot concert I attended two years ago. And just like back then I preferred to look at it from a distance and not join the mania. I decided to turn my back on this nonsense.
Seriously, the Ladurée Macaron has become the Madonna of the Macaron world. A superstar too big for its own good. The fame has gone to its head, now it’s founding its own cult. And soon it will start adopting kids from Malawi. Scary.
Anyway, upon leaving the gates of Macaron heaven, a nice smell caught my attention, I turned around and was faced with a display of more Macarons (what else? we’re in Paris right?!). Ready to run in and buy a bunch, I suddenly get pulled back by Christine who just shouts: “Anne, are you really going into McDonalds?!”
Shock. Horror. Disbelief! This was a McDonalds?!
Ok, we’ve always heard these myths that in France the grass is greener and the people more beautiful, but no one ever told me that the McDonalds were disguised as trendy coffee-shops! Alas, it is true. The Macaron has conquered the lowest of the low, it has arrived at McHell!
Right, so every honourable foodie would have taken a U-turn right there and refused to go any further. But somehow I didn’t. These Macarons were smiling at me and wispering sweet thoughts into my ears “come in, come in, come in and eat me…”. It reminded me a bit of Lord of the Rings, the Macaron being the Ring and me slowly turning into Gollum… Not a nice thought.
But I needed to know. I needed to find out what a Macaron from Hell would taste like. And I did. And it did taste good. Actually, to all the Macaron snobs out there: it wasn’t the best one I’ve ever eaten but damn, it was pretty decent! Subtle almond taste, nice chewiness (more chewy than the melt-in-your-mouth Laduree though), a bit of an artificial flavour to the filling, but astonishingly alright…
So, in the end I reached a sensible compromise.
I decided to buy a box of McCafé Macarons along with the Ladurée cookbook, giving me the instant satisfaction of biting into a Macaron, together with the good foodie conscience of knowing that from now on I’ll be baking my own Macarons with the recipe coming straight from heaven. A heaven devoid of tourist crowds. Nice.
PS: Back in London, and with a bit of hindsight, I have to say that after four days in Macaron heaven, even the hard-core Macaron lover in me has become slightly fed up with them and is welcoming some big fat cupcakes for a change.