A few weeks ago I mentioned my excitement at the way macarons had become not only Cape Town’s favourite treat, but also our favourite gift! In an article entitled, The Cookie Connoisseur Cookie, I was admittedly ignorant as to the name of the little bundles of magic. Needless to say the 2oceansvibe community rallied round and the comments section exploded with descriptions and tales of origin and where the best places in Cape Town were to get them. Cue pack shot:
Now, before I go on (and following some considerable research), I would just like to clarify that although the spelling is similar, one should not confuse the macaroon with the macaron. The one we are dealing with is the latter.
If I may:
A macaron is a confectionery whose name is derived from an Italian word “maccarone” or “maccherone”. This word is itself derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient.. It is meringue-based: made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectionery sugar.
The confectionery is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference, and flat base. Connoisseurs prize a delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The French macaron differs from other macarons in that it is filled with cream or butter like a sandwich cookie, and can be found in a wider variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the exotic (truffle, matcha tea).
That’s the one!
For more info (including history and variations) check out this macaron Wikipedia page.
So, given the above, and combined with the information given in the comments section of that original article, I’m sure you will agree that I couldn’t find myself in a better spot than my current location, Provence, to sample the sweet French delicacy.
If you ever find yourself in the Luberon Valley region of Provence, be sure to stop by this shop, in the village of Coustellet:
If you’re in Coustellet, you simply MUST pop in!
It was there that we discovered what must be some kind of safe haven for macarons, as they sprang up all around us – rows and rows of colours and flavours, the likes of which you could never imagine. And I’m very sure of that, just you wait and see..
Your garden variety French macarons
Ok so those are your normal sweet variety – a large range, I’m sure you will agree. From lemon and pistachio to caramel, chocolate and strawberry – they were all there.
But that’s not where it ended. They had savoury as well.
No spice! They had a whole section which included escargot flavour (yup, snail!), salmon, cheese, tomato, chocolate/foie gras (no spice), tapenade and more!
Check it out:
You can see the flavours written on the labels
Salmon and Fromage (cheese) closest to us
We were a little hesitant when it came to these more extravagant flavours and the idea of savoury vs sweet was quite tricky to get our heads around!
That said, we thought we would try one and maybe try another the next time we were in the village. So we went for the cheese and chowed it when we got outside.
I can now report that it was one of the more horrific experiences of my life and I strongly advise everyone to stick to the sweet macarons! I couldn’t possibly imagine what the snail and salmon ones taste like and I’m sure I will never know.
The shop owner was slightly confused as to why I would be posing in front of the display. I couldn’t quite find the correct French to describe, “I’m a blogger from CapeTown who recently wrote about macarons and am now doing a follow-up article!”
Come here little boy, I have some sweeties for you!
And that, my friends, is the end of that!
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