If you have a sweet tooth and you’re in Paris you must make a stop at Aux Merveilleux de Fred. We were presented with a box of these delights by our lovely friends and I don’t think life will be the same again! Meringue covered in whipped cream coated in flakes of chocolate with different flavours and given names such as ‘le magnifique’ (praline), ‘le merveilleux’ (chocolate) and ‘l’incroyable’ (spéculoos), they melt in your mouth!
Not only are they delicious, their name also has a very interesting history.
Let’s go back to the French Revolution and, in particular, the period of 1795-1799 known as le Directoire (French Directory). This government was seen almost as a dictatorship during a time of economic depression and famine in France. La Terreur (Reign of Terror) tore through from 1793 until 1794, violence incited by the conflict between two political factions, the Girondins and the Jocobins, which saw the death toll at around 16,594 executions by guillotine and around 25,000 deaths by execution without trial. An extremely terrifying time to be in France. A new social group emerged after la terreur, survivors of the carnage most likely wanting to reconnect with society again, calling themselves ‘Les Incroyables et Merveilleuses’.
Hundreds of balls were held (often in memory of victims of the Reign of Terror) and it was a show of luxury and decadence and the city of Paris exploded with energy. Tea salons opened, concert halls were bustling and enjoyment was found again. Les Incroyables were men with impeccable manners, well dressed and often ‘nouveaux riches’ (new money) whereas les Merveilleuses were the woman who dressed in clothing inspired by the Ancient Greeks and Romans and often very revealing.
Back to the cakes! A traditional recipe of the north of France and Flanders, the lightness of the meringue and delicacy of the cake as a whole was matched with that of the elegance and luxury seen during this period of time and voila, the cakes have their name! Frédéric Vaucamps put his own magic touch on the recipe, open his first store in Lille and now there are numerous addresses in Paris! A must eat on your next trip!