I had my first macaron in 2007 when I went to Paris for a weekend to visit my friend doing a study abroad there. I waited on an endless line outside of Laduree, picked them by colors b/c my French is atrocious and I didn't understand the signs, took a bite of one with a questionable filling (never figured out what it was), and brought the rest back for my family. And I never saw them again.
Fast forward another year. I came across pictures of macarons while becoming familiar with food blogs. At the time, I was living with my family in NJ, and commuting to NY daily for classes at FIT and my job. I literally came home every day for 6 weeks and tried to make meringue again. I didn't have a mixer at the time; I tried whipping them by hand with my dingy cheap whisk (aka FAIL). I kept at it anyway. I have a tendency to get obsessed with doing something until I do it right. I went through dozens of eggs, bought countless pounds of super expensive almond flour ($13.99/LB!!), and kept at it for months. I got a KitchenAid for my birthday and still saw many more failures before I saw any success. In fact, I decided that I needed to take a real class to understand what everyone meant by flows like magma (I have only seen magma in cartoons and that stuff moves FAST b/c everyone is freaking out and running away, so I'm pretty sure that's not accurate).
Eventually, in April 2009, I went to Paris to take a macaron class at La Haute Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé. My French was still atrocious and the instructor never seemed to say as much in English as he did in French. He would talk for 15 minutes in French, then turn to me and say, "And American food coloring is too much liquid." I somehow still managed to learn a lot about humidity, temperature, and egg whites.
Working with some very talented people was a great experience and it's one of the factors that eventually pushed me to enroll at the Institute of Culinary Education. One of my teammates is the pastry chef of a macaron shop, Point G, in Montreal. Despite our broken conversation using mostly hand motions, he was very encouraging. When I had a piping mishap that lead to 3 macarons sticking together, he explained that I just invented the new Mickey Mouse inspired Pierre Herme macaron. (hm...maybe I should make those...)
When I first met Simon, he invited me to meet his kitchen. Somehow, he knew I would fall in love with it right away. In return, I introduced him to one of my favorite hobbies...sitting on the floor in front of the oven and watching the macarons rise up and then settle on their feet. It's extremely therapeutic. Simon likes eating broken shells and he would munch on them like popcorn as we watched our macaron cinema.
A year and a half after my first attempt at making macarons, Simon and I made use of all of those trial and errors and opened Macaron Parlour. Every day, I sit and think about what flavor to make next and sometimes the new macaron is born that week, other times, it takes weeks of research, trial, and error before we get close. We can't wait to reveal our new babies.
The only downside to owning Macaron Parlour is not being able to leisurely watch macarons anymore. After popping them in the oven, it's time to go back and start a new batch or make some fillings. Now we go over to check on them, do a quick dance if they're good, and continue our speedy kitchen pace. As we get later and later into the shift, the dance is less excited and more like a head nod of approval - as if we want the macarons to know they passed our test.
Hopefully, one day in the future, I want to host classes to help other people master the insane art of macarons. I envy everyone who got it right in the first try, but if I didn't struggle so hard, I probably would have never fallen in love with them.