It’s sort of a pavlovian response. Macarons? Stop and try some. In New York, I’m better at resisting the imminent lure of these French confections. In Bristol? Well, I’ve never had to resist the lure until now.
Maybe I’m trying to give you a defense for why I purchase three neon macarons. Look at the colors. Can you even guess which flavors I chose? The green is pistachio, that much is obvious. But neon blue for vanilla and fuchsia as raspberry? Those hues can only come from a heavy hand working with a little bottle of chemical magic.
Still, macarons! And in Bristol!
Last year, around this time actually, I suddenly got a craving for macarons. I searched high and low for the little beauties but couldn’t find anything. Typical, I thought, small town lack of foreign foods. I chalked it up to the same narrow-mindedness that doesn’t sell tempeh and wheat berries in the regular grocery store.
My mistake, I wasn’t looking hard enough. though I still think tempeh should have a wider audience.
During my reading week, that blissful week after exams when there are no classes and, thus, no work, I found myself with little else to do but roam the streets. Of course, I mean this in the best possible way. I got horribly lost, the English aren’t all that fond of street signs, and found myself goodness knows where.
On the verge of tears, I spotted some macarons from across the street. Perhaps this says something? I’m hopelessly blind when it comes to spotting my name on lists or paying attention to large cars hurtling towards me, but tiny pastries in a storefront I can spot like that. It’s almost seinfeld-ian.
I ran across the street (told you I can’t see large metal objects speeding towards me) and ran into the pastry shop. It was a little dingy, quite dark and not that authentic looking, but I couldn’t help myself. Despite the neon bombs facing me, I chose three out of five possible flavors. They were 80p each. Not too bad; cheap even when transferred to dollars ($1.25).
So, how did they taste?
Sugar. They tasted resoundingly of sugar and meringue. Nothing at all like the flavors they were marked as. Raspberry? Besides the spot of jam in the centre I have no idea how this could be marked as any fruit flavor. The buttercream filling was vaguely chocolatey, but the only hint of raspberry was the color.
Pistachio? Almond paste, maybe. This was, however, my favorite one.
Vanilla? The filling was basically vanilla frosting. I liked it, but it wasn’t really a macaron.
Basically, I didn’t find authentic macarons. These were more meringue shells piped, baked and filled. Sure, they would work in a macaron-craving pinch, but they aren’t something I’d go after.
What’s your favorite difficult-to-find food?