Fadsaside, French cookie endures
NANCY, France — In the back of a pastry shop in this city in eastern France is a small kitchen that holds a secret.
Nicolas Génot comes here early every morning, shuts the sliding door behind him and transforms ground almonds, egg whites and sugar into cookies called macarons. He works alone.
This macaron — round, unadorned, with rough fissures in its crisp golden crust — is made from a centuries-old recipe. In 1792, two Benedictine nuns, driven from their convent after France’s postrevolutionary government banned religious orders, took refuge with a local doctor and made a living making macarons. Their recipe has been passed down in secret ever since.
These are the timeless, rustic originals that begot the smooth-topped, puffed up, ganache-filled, pastel food-colored sandwich confections we know. But those trendy present-day cousins are going through strange times. What was once the most exquisite of small pleasures is everywhere today. Some have ketchup in the middle. Some are from McDonald’s.
So disappointing, at a time when the perfect macaron has never been needed more.
With the French economy spiraling downward and pessimism infecting the country, la patisserie (the pastry) has risen in importance. “Is la pâtisserie going to replace sex?” screamed the headline of an article in the magazine Marianne this spring. But the macaron is not the subject. Madame Figaro magazine announced recently that “the cream-filled puff pastry has replaced the macaron.” And the Styles supplement of the weekly magazine L’Express declared the éclair the winner, having “rendered the macaron old-fashioned.”
Of course none of this matters to Mr. Génot,
Macarons come in many flavors, including these at a Paris bakery.