Celebrating Imperfect Macarons

It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t even good-looking. I had given up on it. I wasn’t even going to put a filling in it. They were cracked and all different shapes and sizes, some rising more than others — imperfect.

But I felt the need to give it the same attention as I would to any perfection. Any perfection that had come out just as I had wanted it to: beautifully picture-perfect and delicious.

They it. They were of it.

So I filled up my piping bag with leftover meyer lemon curd from another recipe and gave each pair of macarons a dollop. I sandwiched them together and brought them to a place with ample light. Placing them on a clean plate, I arranged them, some macaron sides sliding off, leaving exposed curd. I took out my camera and gave them a proper photoshoot.

I can’t tell you why exactly this struck me at this exact moment or why it mattered so much to me. Maybe I was just going delusional. But I needed to do this. To recognize this imperfection, this failure. To go so far as to give it its own photoshoot — to celebrate it.

Curiously, this batch of failed macarons made me think back to my past few weeks. Weeks where a lack of motivation and feelings of being drained had plagued me even more so than normal. Weeks where the acts of food — buying it, cooking it, eating it — were one of the few things that I felt content from.

I had always taken comfort in the realms of baking and cooking, a world where I was decently skilled in. The kitchen was a safe haven for me to create and express and channel my thoughts and emotions into. I can remember countless times when I went to the kitchen after a particularly long or emotionally charged day and just simply started chopping vegetables or organized the fridge.

I am not oblivious to the irony of my finding comfort in a space that has long been used by heteronormative society as a way to situate womxn into a separate sphere. The way I see it, I am in control of this space. I have reclaimed this space. This is . Any man that tells me otherwise is one that does not deserve my attention (or any results from my cooking/baking for that matter). I genuinely enjoy making food and seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they receive a fresh batch of whatever I made. No one can take that away from me.

In the culinary world, failure is a side that few see. Perhaps that is why it fits me so well. Unless you live with me, you will usually not bear witness to the numbers of attempts I make in a recipe, all the moments that go un-photograped. Outside of the kitchen, you will not see the storms of emotions and thoughts that live rent free within me. More times than not, only the results, only the perfection is placed on a platform for all to see and admire. Everything in between, all the imperfections, goes unnoticed.

before baking

Perhaps this failure in my safe haven served as a jolting reminder for me — me, someone that always strives for perfection, someone that is weighed heavily with imposter syndrome; someone that is still trying to escape the confines of the model minority myth and understand the traumas it brought.

A reminder to embrace imperfection; celebrate it, even. A reminder that a safe space is a space to be imperfect and make mistakes. A reminder that what I have done so far is enough. That am enough.

There will always be little victories to celebrate. Because at the end of the day, these macarons still taste good as hell.

A tiny victory — This tiny macaron was the only one that didn’t have any cracks.

(she/they) Media Studies & Journalism student at UC Berkeley

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