My most recent post (L’Étoile to Le Louvre) put “stars” and such in my mind. Once again I’m playing around with the intersection of some associated French and English words (associated to me anyway). This Franglish post was also inspired by an invitation to dine at a “Michelin starred” restaurant. The French and English equivalent words are <<étoile>> and “star”. I started with these two words and then threw a Guide Michelin “star” into the mix.
Most everyone is familiar with the Michelin restaurant “star” rating system. Lots of my friends mixup the number of possible stars, thinking the ultimate Michelin rating is 5 (perhaps due to our own AAA rating system?). The maximum and highest rating in the Michelin system is 3 stars; <<trois étoiles>>. Or as the French also call them <<trois macarons>>. Pourquoi? Why do the French call Michelin stars “macarons”? Because the graphic symbol that Michelin uses as a “star” doesn’t look like a star. I’ve also heard the Michelin stars referred to as <<rosettes>> which I think is a much prettier sounding word than <<macarons>> (and easier to pronounce too). For more fun and confusion there is a current craze in France and here too for the baked treat called a <<macaron>> which looks like the English word “macaroon”. Are you still with me?
Here in the US of A a macaroon is the name of a cookie made with coconut dough. Nowadays we seem to be more than willing to drop one of the “o”s and replace macaroons with <<macarons>>. The extra “o” makes a huge difference in the thing you get to eat.
If you prefer the one “o” goodie over the one with two “o”s, you can satisfy your snack attack with imported and sometimes even local versions. Just yesterday I passed by a franchised Macaron shop with an appropriately sounding French name here in Palo Alto. These sorts of specialty shops come and go over time. I suspect that the recent explosion of cupcake shops will soon be replace by an explosion of more macaron shops. Culinary evolution continues; crispy-creme doughnuts –> cupcakes –> macarons. I wonder what’s next.
I ask any recent visitors to Paris if they have a preferred macaron purveyor. Everyone does, but they don’t agree on which shop. I guess I’ll have to make my own reconnaissance mission. Do you have a preferred Parisian macaron shop I should add to my list?