There they were, mounded into a perfect pyramid of delicate symmetry. They looked like French macarons, and they were being distributed, with sinful abandon at Art Basel. Joyous rosy pink inside and out, they were more lovely, more moving, more — impactful!– than just about anything else I’d seen at the massive love-fest the contemporary art world throws for itself each year. One bite of these tiny marvels revealed a creamier filling, and a softer shell than that of the standard macaron. A few minutes later, I noticed the surgically-clad sample-givers were doling out a new batch — wistful pistachio, this time. I came back for more, then returned a third time for sunny lemon.
These, I learned, were the puzzingly-named Luxemburgerli. Only one outfit in the world sells them: Sprungli, the Zurich-based patisserie. (Legend goes that a Sprungli– Richard– discovered them while visiting Luxembourg in the 1950s. He then commandeered the recipe after rather cunningly hiring a young confectioner from the tiny nation.)
And, so, when I made it to Zurich, I of course headed straight for Sprungli-central, the chain’s main outfit on Bahnhofstrasse. As befits an epitome of Swiss multi-culti, the shop offered German chocolates, French croissants, and Italian panini, but the rainbow hues of some 20 various Luxemburgerli outshone them all, beckoning like a jeweled array of citron and peridot, of amethyst and rhodelite garnet. Caramel Fleur de Sel nestled against Lavender, Eggnog and Classic Champagne lurched toward each other, drunk on the possibilities. They came pre-assembled in variety packs, but that would be for later, at the airport, for delicate transport home. Now, though, I chose just one. Campari: a brilliant orange cake lovingly wrapping an off-white center. Eighty-cents, and my own Proustian memory of a delightful Swiss trip. Information: www.spruengli.ch