Proper Macarons

French Word of the Day: macaron (mac-rown)- macaron

I’m going to clear something up for everyone.  This is not a macaron:

Courtesy of What's Cooking America

That’s a macaroon.  It’s Italian, has coconut, and isn’t what I’ve been craving the last few weeks.

This, my friends, is a macaron:

Courtesy of Ladurée

Ladurée, a world-famous, expensive (or “priced well above market value” if you want to be politically correct), French tea salon chain, even has a little story on their website about the origin.  They mention adding a pinch of “know-how;” I can only assume what they’re referring to has addictive properties.

Jenna came into town this weekend for a grad school interview, and we met up.

I had found some proper macarons in Chicago, so I insisted she accompany me there.  She resisted saying, “No, I don’t want to eat anything delicious today!” but I eventually convinced her.  (Actual conversation- Me: Macarons?   Jenna: Yes! When and where?)

We went here:

And had our mint tea and our macarons.

It was a perfect afternoon.

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Some Sparkly Hearts for Everyone

French Word(s) of the Day: scintillement (sun-teal-mon)- glitter

You can tell it’s that time of year again… Le jour de la SaintValentin.  (I don’t know why the French used the feminine definite article for a male saint, but I’m going to roll with it.)

Saint Valentine performed marriage ceremonies for couples at a time when it was illegal for them to marry.  He was imprisoned for his efforts, and eventually stoned and beheaded.  So naturally, we celebrate him with sparkly hearts and chocolate.

Accordingly, the current most-searched terms on my blog are: pink sparkly love hearts, valentine’s day glitter cards, bon saint valentin (spelled various different ways), pink valentine heart gif, and…   Snooki?  I’m not going to dwell on that one.  If you want Snooki to be your valentine, more power to you.

Here’s to love in all its forms!  This lovely street art can be found on rue Saint Lazare.

And because it’s tradition, sparkly pink hearts:

Thank You for the Information

French Word(s) of the Day: les parents (lay pair-awn)- the parents

Because I’ve been to France, everyone emails me anytime anything even remotely related to France, the French, or French words appears in the news or their lives. Someone going to France? Email Meghan! A French phrase just appeared in your book? Email Meghan! The French did something to another country? Email Meghan! Want to decorate your kitchen in the French style? Obviously, Meghan studied decorating in France; email her!

(Anyone who asks me any decorating questions will be directed to Google or  HGTV.)

Don’t get me wrong- I love France. I love hearing about it, and will discuss it for hours at end if given the opportunity. By all means, continue to send me things and ask questions.

However, I have no children and no intention to have any soon, but I’ve been repeatedly sent an article entitled “Why French Parents Are Superior.” Save holding up a sign that says, “Yeah, I’ve seen it. Thanks.” I think posting a link to it on the blog is the only way to stop people from emailing/ texting/ telling me all about it.

For all those crazy, helicopter, American parents out there, here you go: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577196931457473816.html

Transportation

French Word of the Day: Métro (met-row)- metro

I love public transportation.  It lets me walk and think.  I don’t have to worry about hitting anyone while reading, because someone else is driving.

Paris has an amazing system.  You pretty much can’t beat it.  The métro alone goes all over the place.  You have to search pretty hard NOT to find a stop somewhere nearby.

Pigalle was in Amélie, for all the fans out there.  If you want to see more places, here’s a lovely little list.

You should also know that the inside of the trains aren’t generally as nice as the one I took a picture of.  That’s a new train.

Chicago’s El system isn’t quite as widespread as the metro.  It’s not bad, the stop are just much further apart.

I’ll give this to Chicago, though- it has some lovely stations on its El system.

My favorite is Quincy, which was built in 1897.

I’m assuming the blue plastic edgings are from the original 1897 materials.

In this case, Paris wins in efficiency and Chicago wins in old-timey aesthetic.

Culture and Racism

French Word of the Day: noir (new-ar)- black

I don’t normally get political on this blog, but this event came just in time for the start of Black History Month in the States.

French Elle has published a controversial article about how black women are now becoming more “chic” because they’ve embraced the style of the “white-geoisie” (not my term).

The article appears to rely generally on thug stereotypes.  A better explanation can be found here.

Although Elle has taken it down, I found it here.  (Or part of it, at least.)

An open letter was sent to Le Monde entitled “When Will a Black Woman Appear on the Cover of Elle?” and can be found here in its original French.

Americans largely get labelled as racists, so I always find it interesting when things like this come from other countries.  One thing the open letter criticizes is how the article focuses on the black women in America, completely ignoring the black population of France.

Elle has since posted this debate with two women who are part of a site called Afrosomething.  Basically, they rip Elle a new one for being racist.

Some points from their talk:

  • Not all of the women listed in the article as black are even black
  • Styles being touted as black, such as those worn by Nicki Minaj, are worn by others (such as the Japanese)
  • to say “the black community” is incorrect because there are so many different black communities
  • to say “black-geoisie” instead of simply “bourgeoisie” makes them a completely different group, separating them

They point out that while the article tried to start out as showing how blacks had gained more of an equal ground, it fell into clichés that made it completely racist and shocking for 2012.

I’ve always found this tension an interesting part of modern French culture.  I think a lot of times it gets ignored, but it’s always right there.

Thoughts?