Lychees and Macarons


I have a love-hate relationship with French food. On the one hand, it is at once both glorious decadence and farm-fresh simplicity. On the other hand, I almost always get uncontrollable diarrhea. All in all, totally worth it!

I attribute the majority of my gastro-intestinal problems (fairly or not) to (a) unpasteurized dairy (my poor tummy’s not used to all those bugs–I’m American, after all, we sterilize everything always), (b) the animal-rich diet (I’m not a huge meat eater in my daily life, but put a bloody Charloais entrecôte in front of me and watch yourself–I’m like Pavlov’s dog, if Pavlov’s dog were rabid and lunged at his master’s jugular for just one meaty morsel), and (c) fois gras (eaten at every special occasion meal, and every in-between meal during the holidays–it’s delicious, but I can feel myself getting closer to gout with every forkful).

Charloais entrecôte: Charloais is a breed of cattle originating from Charloais France, which has a similar taste-reputation to Japan’s Kobe beef. Entrecôte is a delicious cut that I am unable to identify and am too lazy to Google. Knock yourselves out.

That said, truffles! Truffles are so ubiquitous that generous hunks of the fungus sit inconspicuously in people’s home refrigerators (stored with eggs in an airtight container–the eggs absorb the truffle essence and make a mean omelet), and I honestly struggle to remember the things with truffles that I’ve eaten. Highlights include: mashed potatoes with chunks of truffles, and truffle sausten–the latter of which is sitting in our fridge because we can’t get enough of the stuff.

macarons and lycheesBut the thing I love most about French food is the quality of the local public markets, patisseries (confectioneries), and boulangeries (bakeries). We brought home dozens of lychees, passion fruits, and a a boxful of gourmet macarons (which are apparently all the rage in France at the moment, a trendy dessert not unlike the American cupcake phenomenon from a few years back).

While the lychees and passion fruits are clearly not French-grown, they’re fresh and add much needed diversity to a winter’s table. It’s a nice departure from English fare, which here in the southeast is very locally based.

Chinese medicine champions the belief that our bodies need what grows in our own climate, our nutritional needs changing with the seasons–this is something I also believe in and try to practice (when I actually have time,which these days is hard to come by). But, especially in our part of England where we rarely see food grown outside of the UK, the refreshing squirt of a tropical fruit is just what the doctor ordered. It livens the senses and broadens the palate.

So that’s why I love French food despite constantly falling sick from its guile. This ideal balance between locally grown and quality imported agricultural products that require a totally different climate in which to grow, is something that the French have managed to master.


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5 Responses to Lychees and Macarons

  1. Miquel says:

    Macarons have seen a recent boost in popularity in the US as well. They were all the rage in San Francisco before I moved out and now, visiting for the holidays, it appears that it remains so. I like them, but don’t understand the infatuation. I assume it has to do with the coloring.

    Of course I have to mention that the macarons my in-laws brought back from a bakery in French Basque country a couple of months ago, who have been making them for several hundred years, were absolutely transcendent.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Miquel, nice to hear from you! It’s interesting, not having lived in a cosmopolitan area since mid-2003, I have quite a different perspective–likely because it takes longer for internationally-influenced trends to hit the more rural, isolated areas (even in California!) where I’ve lived. Comparably, when I spend time in France, it’s deep in the heart of the Champagne region, which is certainly a step or two behind Paris with these sorts of things. In two months I’ll be in the Bay Area (North Bay, wine country–where else?) and will be curious to see what,if any, new trends I notice.

      I would agree that a so-so macaron is just that. But, a great one is a pillow of deliciousness. Totally agree that the coloring has something to do with it–more power to it, food that enlivens our other senses is what keeps me coming back for more.

      Oh, I recently checked out your Amazon author page–looks great! Happy New Year ;-)

      • Miquel says:

        Cocktails in San Francisco. Drink ‘em and love ‘em. Even a wine lover can’t resist. The bar, Big in SF is great as you just tell them what you’re in the mood for and they’ll craft up something unique for you. My friend’s new bar, Hi-Lo Club on Polk Street is also worth checking out. But, that’s definitely a trend of the last five or so years that I approve of.

        Also, bring me back some Rye Whiskey when you’re there as I couldn’t fit enough in my suitcase! Wait, I have a list…

        We’ll pick it up when we come to watch Book of Mormon in London this Spring.

        • Lisa says:

          Let me know if there’s any place that tops high on your list that you’d recommend. I’ll be in Sonoma in late-Feb/early-March, and may tuck down to the city for a day trip.

          • Lisa says:

            Scratch that spastic comment, I didn’t read yours in full (stupid tiny netbook screen!). Hi-Lo Club is officially on the list, thanks! And, how did you know that Book of Mormon has been high on my list?!?!? Dying to see it, I’m a big fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the South Park episode where Butters gets queefed on is my current favorite–hooray for feminism!). Those guys really get it…

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