17 July 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating


I was walking down the ever-so-evocative streets of Paris, down rue St. Honoré, past the Opera and Madeleine, heading toward Ladurée, that exquisite jewel box of a pastry shop.  I had an appointment with a macaroon and was busy mulling over exactly which flavour I was going to choose.  Chocolate and pistachio were two current favourites; I was half thinking of lemon or raspberry.  My mind was absorbed with this important decision.
  First of all, I should take a moment to explain that macaroon doesn't refer to the heavy-ish coconutty things we Americans usually think of as macaroons.  A French Macaroon, or macaron, is a light-as-air almost meringue-y almond cookie, or rather two of these light and flavourful cookies sandwiching a filling:  creamy chocolate ganache for the chocolate macaroons, buttery caramel for the hazelnut ones, pistachio cream for the pistachio macaroons and tangy raspberry preserves for the raspberry meringues.  A delicacy like this is worth being obsessed over.
  As I turned the corner I spied a large group of people gathered around the window in front of Ladurée.  There were perhaps six or eight Japanese girls - maybe 18 or 19 years old - standing in front of the pastry shop window.  They were crying.
  An equal number of French adults stood by: women and men, busy raising their shoulders and looking perplexed, shrugging and pouting, giving that particular Gallic downturn of the mouth reflecting an effort to comfort, but helpless nonetheless.  No one seemed to have any idea why the girls were crying.  Clearly, the French did not understand Japanese, and neither did the Japanese understand French.
  'Why,' I asked one of the girls, 'are you crying?'  A sea of gentle sobs was the only reply.  The girls had macaroon crumbs on their faces and didn't look sad at all, they were simply overcome with emotion.
  'Ha-ppy,' said the first girl.  'Ha-ppy,' said the second, and the rest joined in, heads bobbing up and down, 'Ha-ppy!' they all chimed in.  They were crying because they were happy.
  Well, you know, I understand.  There we were, on a beautiful street in Paris, the musical sound of the French language in our ears, surrounded by chic women walking little dogs, shop windows filled with fabulous goods arranged in a stunningly artistic manner...not to mention those macaroons.  Well, who wouldn't cry?

'The Roving Feast'


  1. We have a macaron food truck in Boston, that is often parked out in front of the library. I would probably cry myself at having those two so close together...except that I don't really like macarons all that much.:)

  2. I must confess to making myself a bit ill when my neighbour presented me with a gorgeous box of eight macarons from Laudrée. I didn't know they froze well and ate every last one over two days. Too sweet!!! But, somehow I still manage to indulge in the odd one every now and then.