Macarons Make It Official: Lexington's a Food(ie) Capital

Macarons, exquisite French almond pastries

Macarons, exquisite French almond pastries

It's definitely fun to be cool, to be among the Places With Macarons, the très French pastry that is sweetly nudging its way into the spotlight, according to Neda Ulaby's "Move Over Cupcake" story on NPR.

For a while, I just enjoyed eating the incredible round meringue-y, almond-y pastries W&M Market sells. I did not know their name, but -- civic pride demands that I underscore this -- these beautiful bits of flavored airiness have been selling like...macarons.... on the corner of Second and Jefferson in Lexington for at least a year now. One day I looked at the name of these delicacies and learned I was eating what appeared to be a macaroon that was missing one "o." So yes, we are chic here in Lexington, and have been for some time, thanks to W&M owners Krim Broughalem and Andrea Sims, and certainly to the smart local cook who makes those macarons.

I see that NPR asserts that Americans add that missing "o" to make "macarons" into "macaroons," but surely we should Just Say Non. Let's have our macarons and our macaroons, too.

Macaroons, to me, are those fantastic chewy coconutty things (or sometimes ground almond things, which does bring them perilously close to the single "o" status). Neither macarons nor macaroons need flour, which make them even sweeter for people who avoid wheat. Both can be made at home -- in theory -- though macarons famously require considerable technique, not just a recipe.

Famed former Chez Panisse pastry chef David Lebovitz helpfully collected a LOT of web-based information about making macarons. He also tried seven times to produce a French chocolate macaron, and then shared the recipe. This suggests that food trends like "Macarons Trounce Cupcakes in the Kitchen Bowl" follow a long, slow build-up of interest among professional and advanced amateur chefs and food writers. Aren't we glad we have them, and especially glad they share with us when they get things working?

In the short run, though, those of us in Lexington -- and especially those of us who can walk to W&M Market -- are glad the professionals are on the job, and that Krim and Andrea help keep central Kentucky's long-standing ties to France in smooth working order. W&M does not seem to have a website, but search for their active facebook page, "WINE+MARKET."

Photo Credit: minik: Thank you!