Four years ago, I spent a magical summer in Paris, capturing memories in a long-forgotten blog. Every Thursday, I’ll post my favorite entries from that blog. This is reprinted from 7-18-10.
My first encounter with the concept of macaroons came from T.S. Eliot and his poem ‘Mr.Apollinax’
"Of dowager Mrs. Phlaccus, and Professor and Mrs. Cheetah I remember a slice of lemon, and a bitten macaroon."
My second encounter with the concept of macaroons came today in Paris, under the bright lights of the Angelina cafe where the dark chocolate is thick and heavy and the pastries are delicate and light (and sometimes covered in gold foil). As I’ve learned, in France macaroons come at a steep price (1.20 euro a pop), but it was a price I was (semi-begrudgingly) willing to pay. Three euro sixty got me three macaroons — strawberry/pistachio, orange/lavender, and raspberry/chocolate — and the introduction to a new sweet food addiction. I feel that only a picture could commemorate the joy of such a moment.
Okay, so maybe a macaroon is just a cookie. But it’s also a french way of life. The outside of a macaroon is crisp and light while the inside is reminiscent of meringue. This light texture is counterbalanced by the thick, oftentimes buttery, cream that is inside.
Refer to graph A for a more comprehensive look:
My third experience with the concept of the macaroon came in a tea shop later in the afternoon. By this point I was hooked, and bold enough to ask the waiter to surprise me with two flavors of his choosing. So he did. And I was surprised, by how much macaroons I can fit into my stomach in a single day (the answer currently stands at two mini ones and two regular sized ones) though by the end my stomach was feeling the heavy consequence of this feat. But chocolate and rose/green tea flavored macaroons go wonderfully with a cup of perfumed tea.
Established in 1854, Mariage Freres is a haven for tea addicts connoisseurs such as me. With a tea menu that is far longer than my reading attention span (it comes with a sixty page booklet to explain each flavor), this is truly paradise. The waiters in the tea cafe nestled above the store are dressed from head to toe in white, pouring tea carefully over porcelain cups and white linen tablecloths, and the macaroons are to be eaten with a knife and a fork.
The flavors range from “Tea of Impressionists” (really sweet with a vanilla undertone) to “Sakura Blossoms” (delicate and reminiscent of summer fruit) to “Passion Fruit” (tart, but in a good way) and the atmosphere is dark and a bit overwhelming. But also in a good way.
As kitchy as the store itself underneath the Louvre was, I feel like this is one of the jewels of Paris one finds only when they are not looking for it. The Rive Gauche store was a bit out of the way and far from the bustling St-Michel area in the Arrondisement.
Keep good company – that is, go to the Louvre. – Paul Cezanne