No one really knows where macarons (macaroons) come from or how they were first created, but the traditional rustic style (as opposed to the refined, colourful and fashionable choice in patisseries all over France) is one of the most delicious secrets of the Poitou region, just to our south and west. They are crunchy on the outside and squidgy on the inside.
The word macaron first appeared in a book by Rabelais, written between 1548 and 1552. It may come from the Italian ammaccare 'to crush' - after the ground almonds used to make them. According to some historians these little cakes arrived in France in 1533 from Italy with Catherine de Medici when she arrived to marry Henri II. The queen's pastry cooks brought with them the secrets of working with sugar and almonds to make marzipan, and also the more humble macaroon. Other culinary historians say that macarons were already being made in French convents of the Middle Ages. Their accounts vary too on how the macaron spread throughout France. Some say that pilgrims on the route to Santiago de Compostella gave macarons as a thank you gift to their hosts at each staging point. Others say that the king loved them (and there is documentary evidence for this) and so pastry cooks throughout the land made sure to learn how to make them when he visited.
Source: Régal No 47.