You can’t go to Paris and not try the macaron! Even if the humble macaron didn’t actually originate in France (more on the history of the macaron to follow), it would be a crime to visit the French capital and not try at least a little bite of this famed delicacy…
So if the iconic French delicacy didn’t start in France, then where did it start? Well, the history of the macaron is a little hazy to say the least! Most findings put the start of the macaron in 8th century Italy. Apparently, Venetian monks produced them and they quickly became a favourite of the Italian royal families.
In the 15th Century when Catherine de Medici married Henry II, she brought her favourite Italian snack, the macaron, with her! Throughout all this time, macarons were single shells with no garnish. It wasn’t until the mid 19th century that two macaron shells were pasted together using buttercream or icing and made into the ‘sandwich’ we see today.
If you’re vegan or have other dietary requirements that don’t allow you to eat a ‘traditionally made’ macaron, there are a number of vegan delicatessens and boulangeries around the city. One that comes highly recommended to me by a vegan friend is the Gentle Gourmet Café (24 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012 Paris).
With a crispy meringue shell and a smooth, creamy sweet centre, the flavour possibilities of meringues are endless. You can also purchase macarons filled with actual fruit. Flavours I’ve seen in Paris include; pear, strawberry, lemon, pistachio, salted caramel, raspberry, chocolate, cherry, tiramisu, mango, coffee, lavender, orange, rose petal, passionfruit, chestnuts and mint among others.
Macaron Fast Facts
- Although it’s possible to get Macarons in other shapes, the traditional shape is round and circular.
- The macaron was not a ‘sandwich’ but instead a single layer until the 1900s.
- The macaron is the best selling cookie in France. Anyone else had no idea that the macaron was a cookie or is it just me?!
- Macarons should not be confused with the macaroon (a sweet coconut cake).
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