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Macaroons were a luxury for me when I was a student in Paris, and so when I returned to work there some five years ago, I was finally able to sample a taste of the great French baked sweet. Macaroons, or macarons, as the French call them, are made mainly from egg white and sugar, similar to meringues. There are ample confectioneries in Paris but it was imperative I make a visit this time round to the iconic La Durée, a traditional confectionary house that has been making macaroons since the beginning of the 20th century by Pierre Desfontaines, second cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée.
My first attempt was their main shop on the Champs Elysées. I was shocked. I do not remember ever seeing such a long queue and I retreated in dismay, not wanting to stand in line for an hour. We strolled from the Champs Elysées along Rue St. Honoré Faubourg and came across another one of La Durée’s stores at the Madeleine – but again, there was a long line. I was devastated, would I end up with no macaroons on this trip?
I was forced to abandon the search for the time being as my beau had to go for a meeting. I was nearly on the verge of tears – all I wanted was a macaroon! But hope comes to those who do not despair. The next morning, I stumbled across another La Durée at St. Germain des Prés before our journey to the Sacré Cœur and in my delight I bought a box with all the flavours possible. It cost me EUR25, but what is the value of money in light of macaroons?
On the bus, I started by sampling the green apple one, a seasonal flavour, one bite at a time. Is it not heavenly when the crisp falls apart slightly as you take one gentle bite, sinking into the sweet ganâche?
La Durée makes its macaroons now with 11 permanent flavours: coffee, caramel, blackcurrant violet, chocolate, orange blossom, raspberry, coconut, pistachio, liquorice, rose and vanilla. With each season, they create a new flavour in their “laboratories”. Currently, the seasonal flavours are: lemon, red fruits, morello almond, chuo choclate pur origin, praline, chestnut, green apple and mango jasmine.
By the time we arrived at the Sacré Cœur I devoured a third of the box. I mulled in satisfaction as I munched on one after another, though I was taken by surprise with a white one that was ugh, disgusting! But that’s just me, and I have no complaints – sun, macaroons, breathtaking scenery, in Paris with my beau…. now all I have to do is to fully recover!