© Emmanuelle Guillou - Fotolia.com
MacDo Takes on the Macaron
March 2, 2010
Macarons, those luscious little French pastry sandwiches made out of meringue, almond paste and sugar, have been around for quite a while. Although there is some debate as to their origin, according to Larousse Gastronomique they were first invented in Renaissance Venice and brought to France when Catherine de' Medici of Florence married King Henri II in 1547. If you hadn't heard of the meringue-based pastries before 2006, that probably changed when Sofia Coppola spread piles of Ladurée macarons across the lavish set of her biopic Marie Antoinette, starring American actress Kirsten Dunst. The multi-colored confections were a set designer's dream, and have since cropped up in pastry shops across America.
The best macarons (not to be confused with macaroons) are of course still made in Paris, and can be found at venerable pâtisseries like Ladurée, classic shops like La Maison du Chocolat, and the cutting-edge innovator Pierre Hermé. (See our list of the best chocolatiers in Paris.) But recently, a couple of new players have popped up on the macaron scene in Paris, and it has pastry chefs and gourmands up in arms.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the American chains Starbucks and McDonald's have both begun to serve traditional French macarons, and McDonald's has taken to advertising the treats with a poster image of a macaron being eaten with two hands, just like a hamburger. To add insult to injury, the campaign comes only three months after McDonald's opened a restaurant in the Louvre, causing worldwide hyperventilation and outrage. (And, of course, some squeals of delight.)
Experts are skeptical as to whether the MacDo macarons can really be any good. As Pierre Hermé told the Journal: "There's macaron, and then there's macaron." But it may be that the final verdict on the new macarons will be handed down not by chefs on high, but by the many tourists who routinely crowd into the Louvre McDonald's for sweet treats after a long day traipsing through the endless corridors of the world's largest museum.
France Today magazine. A unique insider’s perspective on French travel,
culture, real estate and much more. Subscribe today.