Sweet Nothings At All
After we had tasted the pure sublimity that was the Jean-Paul Hevin macaron, we were floating on a cloud of joy, and also spoiled by something exceptional. The joy didn't last long: we were stuck in Paris until 9:13 (the tickets we'd booked were super cheap and couldn't be changed to an earlier train--we tried), and it was still hot and crowded and dirty and smoky. But the memory of excellence was still with us, and when we walked past a McDonald's, of all things, which sold macarons, of all things, we knew we had to try them.
Now, the Hevin macarons had been delivered to us wrapped in a little sheaf of paper tucked into an elegant brown-and blue box which was fastened shut with a blue elastic cord affixed to which was a little metal plaque with the Hevin logo, the whole placed in a heavy paper bag with narrow but strong paper handles; preposterously lovely, for something meant to be thrown away. (We're keeping the elastic cords.) The McDonald's macarons, by contrast, were put into an overly large white box and then unnecessarily placed in an even larger white bag, with, again, paper handles. There were also some napkins tossed in.
The McDonald's macarons were exactly as you would expect: heavy, dense, industrial; thickly sweet and uninteresting. They were to the Hevin macarons what a Britney Spears cologne is to a Serge Lutens creation.
The next day in London, we remembered that there was a famous French patissier called Laduree in Harrods, so we decided to get some more macarons from there. Purely for experimental purposes, you understand. (It will surprise you to learn that I did not go to the fragrance department in Harrods, though I desperately wanted to: this is because, after having spent half an hour at Serge Lutens in Paris, I promised Jim that I would not do any more scent shopping until we reach the duty-free shop at Gatwick. He doesn't believe I can do it, but I am determined to prove that I can, though I don't quite believe it myself, either.)
Laduree has some fascinating flavours: licorice, for one, not to mention rose, orange blossom, and mint-and-anise. But....
Perhaps the Laduree macarons in Paris are glorious, or perhaps you simply have to eat macarons in Paris for the full effect. (Or perhaps it is that the ones be bought at Hevin had been sitting in my knapsack in the Parisian heat for a couple of hours before we ate them.) But the ones we bought in London were simply not that good; a little too durable, without the shatteringly fragile crust or the airy lightness that the Hevins had. The perfume, too, was missing; inserting your nose into the (admittedly lovely) box gave you almost nothing, compared to the ravishing aroma of the Hevins. (And once again, it might have been the temperature.)
There is only one thing for it, then. We must either return to Paris to experience those astonishing little confections, or we must learn to make our own. I will keep you posted.