Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Macarons: My First Attempts

When I find that I have gotten in over my head on a particular adventure, baking or otherwise, I recall the first day when I realized the important difference between theory and practice. Both my grandfathers were gardeners, so growing up, I took special pride in the beautiful roses we had lining our driveway. And as anyone who's grown roses will know, aphids are their number one enemy. As Eric Carle so nicely described in his book, The Grouchy Ladybug, aphids are small green bugs that like to snack on roses and will ravage them, leaving them full of holes. But fear not -- ladybugs come to the rescue! Ladybugs eat aphids, and therefore are friends of the roses and the people who love them. Carle encourages people to appreciate the ladybugs who tend to the flowers, and I always did.

One day, when my family sought to address the too-thriving aphid community that had settled in on our rose bushes, we took a trip to a nursery and bought a container of ladybugs. Live ones. There was a layer of mesh at the top of the container to allow them to breathe, and as my fat little kid hands held onto that cylinder of floral salvation, I could hardly believe that there were really hundreds of hungry creatures inside readying themselves for the greatest feast of their ladybug lives.

When we finally arrived back at the house (the anticipation was killing me!), we stood right by the rose bushes and let out a gasp of awe as we opened the lid. Slowly at first, and then in droves, the ladybugs shook themselves free and streamed out of the container. The only problem was that most of them were so happy to be free, they simply flew away. I had imagined our rose bushes covered in grateful ladybugs eager to demonstrate their allegiance by chowing down on the aphids, but alas! Most of them hung out on the side of the house or decided to visit the neighbors down the street. The difference between theory and practice. But to me, it was still worth it just to see all those ladybugs.

And now that I'm old enough to know better, I still find myself elbow-deep in similarly overwhelming situations from time to time. In this case, French macarons are my can full of ladybugs. In the last few months, I've made a few attempts (at least 5, 2 of them in one night), and none have been 100 % successful. But for now, I'm just trying to keep at it. Because when all is said and done, I just know I will end up with perfect, tasty macarons -- and those, in my opinion, are even better than roses.

1 comment:

Molly said...

i'm glad you're working on it!! i don't believe you that they are not 100% yet-- they look delish.