After one prosecco too many at a high tea, I slipped up amongst fellow gastronomes by referring to macarons as macaroons, even going so far as to say they were synonymous. Of course, I was wrong, the macaroon is vastly superior to the overdone Magnolia-esque cupcake of 2007: the mahck-eh-rohn. Macaron, said with the unmistakable nasal vowel of contempt you only learn at Le Cordon Bleu-rghhh. The one that says “I started to pronounce the ‘on’, but never finished, because you should already know the biscuit”. Bitch.
Interestingly, the French word macaron comes from the Italian maccarone. The word itself being derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond meal which is the principle ingredient. The etymology isn’t even French. You were at culinary school for how long?
My Australian friend introduced me to the coconut macaroon a few years ago when his mother sent him over a care-package containing the sensible, soft biscuit. Softer than its meringue cousin, but equally as sweet, the macaroon’s principle ingredients are egg whites, sugar and desiccated coconut. Nuts are often added too, typically ground almonds, and in Australia, a blob of raspberry jam or a glacé cherry is also concealed in the center of the macaroon prior to baking. Delicious in its sentimentality, and appreciated ironically, knowingly. No cocoa smoked marshmallow, no foie gras ganache, no salted caramel, and no going hungry having eaten only air and sugar – most of which has fallen on the floor anyway. It’s a biscuit for those of us who eat.
The macaroon is not puffed up with vanity like the macaron. It doesn’t have made up culinary terms associated with it, like ‘feet’, the ruffled circumference, and ‘skin’, the characteristic smooth, perfectly proportioned top rising from slutty Manolo’s. The macaroon doesn’t need them, it has humbler origins in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management – written at a time when people were actually hungry. It’s a nice biscuit, the Melbourne, a quiet studious sister at home while Sydney goes out to party in a gaiety of colors to compensate for her ordinary shoes.
Apologies to Paul Simon.
I’m thinking of making this a feature topic, fashionable foods I should like but don’t. What are some food trends that annoy you?
I’m now on Twitter and Facebook. I’d love to trend with the #thesadpig so please re-tweet. I’d also like to thank Isaac Hsieh for making his beautiful photo of macarons available under a Creative Commons license.