Little did I know I was stepping into the middle of a passionate culture war:
Mon Dieu! Will Newfound Popularity Spoil the Dainty Macaron?
Parisian Treat Goes Mainstream; McDonald's Recipe Has Provenance
Once the preserve of high-end French patisseries such as Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, macarons are showing up at retailers like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Starbucks. Even McDonald's is selling a scaled-down version in its McCafés in France, backed by ads showing two hands holding the tiny treat like a hamburger.
Instead of celebrating, however, fans of the meringue-like pastry have been whipped into a frenzy.
"Macarons are not meant to be mainstream," sniffs Laetitia Brock, a native of Paris who has been blogging about French culture from Washington for the past six years...Her negative blog post about the trend elicited a tempest over the tea cake.
There's some useful background in the article, as follows:
The word macaron comes from "the Italian maccherone and the Venetian macarone (meaning fine paste), from which macaroni is also derived," says Larousse Gastronomique, the encyclopedia of French cooking.... The English spelling is "macaroon," but the French confection is not to be confused with the dense chewy treat made with sweetened coconut.