Teach Through Educational Travel: Parisian Macarons
What better place to have the most Parisian of foods than in Paris? But I digress. Have you heard of the French Macaron, the most beloved confection to come out of France? It is composed of two meringue-based cookies (egg whites, ground almonds, sugar) sandwiching a filling (buttercream, ganache, jam). What makes them stand out (besides the extreme deliciousness) are the bright colors – macarons come in a rainbow of colors and flavors. Parisian Macarons are much different creatures than the macaroon (which involves coconut).
This confection (a crisp, melt-in-your-mouth cookie) is so ubiquitous to French food culture that they are even sold in McDonald’s. While they are made and sold globally, two of the most famous macaron shops are Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Ladurée has four shops, which sell over 12,000 (!) macarons each day. And if you are a foodie, you recognize Pierre Hermé as one of the world’s most famous pastry chefs, who has several shops throughout Paris. You can buy their macarons in both airports that serve Paris (Orly, Charles de Gaulle). And, each has outposts around the world.
- David Lebovitz is one of the most popular food writers in the world – and he’s based in Paris. While reading anything by him will give you food cues, his descriptions of the flavors of Pierre Hermé’s macarons are truly something to inspire you to try this global delicacy. He also reviews Ladurée’s macarons. Yum!
- The history of the macaron is intricately tied with French history. In this article, read how one recipe for macarons are “the macarons of the French Revolution.” Discuss how certain foods are symbols of a place, and culture. Can you come up with a list of ten foods that epitomize a country?
- Do you love to cook? Have you tried to cook pastries and cookies from other countries? Here are two great recipes for making chocolate macarons. This one includes the science of baking macarons, while this one (again, by David Lebovitz) is tried and true. If classroom time and rules allow, bring in macarons and an espresso machine and have a Parisian café (small dogs in bags optional). Practice your French when ordering!
- Have you eaten macarons before? What were your favorite flavors? On this site you’ll find a list of favorites for the best flavors (and makers) of macarons. Which one would you eat first?