macaron1 The macaron is an iconic afternoon tea staple, a favourite snack for those little breaks between lunch and dinner favoured by anyone and everyone. We all know them, and we all love them. Their distinctive bright colouring makes the snack instantly recognisable - what other light foodstuff can come in such a variety of exciting and alluring shades? - and appealing to snackfood connoisseurs the world ever. Indeed, the macaron is almost universally adored, and I haven't even begun to touch on what they taste like! It's the wonderful contrast of a crisp outer shell and a gorgeous melt-in-your-mouth filling that serves to further increase the appeal of the macaron and secure its place as a regular visitor to the snack plates when tea-time rolls around.

Couldn't you just eat them right up? All of them? Like, now?

So widespread is the draw of this fantastic supersnack that even the world's most mainstream fast food outlets have deemed it a necessary inclusion on their menus. Indeed, in France one can enjoy a macaron and a cup of coffee at one of their McCafe locations - how is that for evidence of their global adoption as a snacktime favourite? So the one thing we know for sure about macarons - aside from the fact that they taste great and look so pretty - is that they're pretty much universally admired. But what is it that underlies these relatively simple facts? How did the humble macaron arrive at the tea break pedestal we find it atop today?

icecream macarons

Macaron ice cream sandwiches. Somebody hold me.

Well, to answer this question, we need to take a brief amble back through the annals of history to find the origins of the macaron. Most culinary historians seem fairly sure that it's a French creation, and the French gastronomic encyclopedia confirms that the snack made it's first appearance way back in the eighth century. Then again, though - the French would say that, wouldn't they? You can hardly blame them for wanting to claim the macaron for themselves. Others disagree, though. A competing school of thought is that it debuted in France some four hundred years later, having crossed over from Italy when Catherine de' Medici married Henry II. One thing is for sure, though - whichever genius mind it was who first introduced the world to the macaron, they deserve a big thanks. colourful macarons Don't they just look like little brightly-coloured hamburgers? So that's that, then. New flavours are being experimented with all the time so there really is something for everyone when it comes to this excellent snack. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go eat one myself. Or two, or three, or four...
Photo 1 courtesy of BetaBeat 
Photo 2 courtesy of I Speak Foodie
Photo 3 courtesy of Serious Eats