Friday, November 12, 2010

Murder by Macaron

Today I died again by Macaron. 
I got murdered by Mandarin.  Poleaxed by Passionfruit.  Ravaged by Rosepetal.  Gashed by ganache.
I suicided.  I threw myself off the Divine Precipice.  I drowned in an ocean of swelling, agonising delight. 
It was Awesome.
Because Macarons are Deadly, in the most powerful Irish sense, and I could gladly curl up my toes with joy after savouring one single one.  

Today I had a rendez-vous at the Great Big Advertising Agency on the Champs Elysées, where I sometimes work as a freelancer. 
The Great Big Advertising Agency is everything you would imagine it to be – picture a Parisian Sterling Cooper forty years ahead.  Big glass windows casting Paris light across vast carpeted floors littered with stark white tables dotted with iMacs and proofsheets and people wearing trendy glasses and smart outfits.  A balcony with the top of the Arc de Triomphe so close you can blow the smoke of your cigarette on to it. 
It’s an advertising Mecca. 
And advertising can be tough.  So after every day I work there I reward myself.
With Macarons.
I never really liked the Champs-Elysées.  Ever since Bunny Sister got Goosed on Bastille Day back in ’98 by a group of scary ruffians I’ve felt weird about it.  The two of us marched up it anyway the night France won the World Cup but the feeling didn’t go away.  It has a weird, aggressive vibe about it.  Everyone looks anguished; from tourists desperately trying to feel something, to stressed-out fancy business people, to motorists trying make it up to the suicidal ‘Etoile’ roundabout around the Arc which no insurance company in France will cover you for, to aimless wanderers like me, trying to undo the stress of a day inside the Big Agency by peering in the window of Louis Vuitton and wondering if and how a day would ever come when I could justify spending 2k on a handbag.
It’s a funny street.  It’s not my Paris.  It’s an Icon, of course, but nowhere near as romantic as you’d think, especially if you have to get there on the RER A every day.  Of course it’s magical at Christmastime when all the twinkly fairy guirlands light up in the trees.  But generally it’s a street you want to get off as quick as possible.
While eating a Macaron.
Until today I was always a Ladurée devotee.  See me queuing with all the crazy people, enjoying the wait – all the more time to salivate and fantasize about which parfums I would choose.  Rose petal?  Orange blossom?  Pistachio?  Ah, the agony, the ecstasy.
Finally, at the counter, see me point at the adorable pastel green box, to be filled with eight choices that I would take home to share with The Love. 
And now see me getting a little sachet with two or three extras, usually a citron, a vanille, and a fleur d’oranger that I could daintily nibble and lick and devour all the way to the Franklin Roosevelt metro stop.  I say nibble and lick and devour because you can’t just hunker down on a Macaron.  They won’t let you.  They’re too delicate and rich.  If you scoff them they lose their power. 
But you have to have these few little Macarons separate from the others to eat de suite as you leave Ladurée because you will Never Make It Home with the pretty little box intact if you don’t.  Never.  Believe me, I’ve tried it.  You Must Have Separate Macarons.
The beauty of the Macaron is that it has a short life.  Like the most exotic flower.  It blooms, then it’s gone.  And the absolute best way to eat a Macaron is as you’re walking down the Champs-Elysées just after you’ve left Ladurée just after you’ve left a Big Agency. 
It’s all about immediacy.  The Macaron is the one thing in life that rewards your Impatience.
Or so I tell myself.
In fact, a Macaron can last a day, or even two at a stretch: they just become chewier as time goes by.  Harder.  And then they’re off.  So there’s really no sense in waiting. 
No, the eating of a Macaron as soon as purchased is an absolute requisite.  It’s one of the life’s sweetest sensations.
Today my friend from the Big Agency challenged me to give Pierre Hermé a go.  I was shocked. 
But I dared.
And I was rewarded.
Not only was there no queue, the flavours and unctuosity nearly killed me.  That’s the word my friend used - onctueux.  I don’t know what it means but just saying it makes me think of the texture of Macarons.
Onctueux.  Onctueux.  My lord.  They’re amazing.  Imagine this:
White Truffle and Hazelnut
Quince and Rose
Milk Chocolate and Passionfruit
Salty Butter Caramel
I positively died.  I am speaking to you know from my grave, a grave thick with walls of pure unctuous almondy delight. 
And it’s Swee-eet.

Odilon Redon 'Ophelia'

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