When anyone brings up the concept of multiculturalism and diversity in New York, I am always quick to contend that while there is indeed a richness in the availability of culture in the city, it is seemingly more of a sampling than anything else, especially in Manhattan. I make this assertion to argue against the idea that the city is a brewing “melting pot,” which I have found to be description that many use. In order for the city to be a “melting pot,” it essentially necessitates complete and full integration and mixing of cultures. However, that does not exist in any entirety – niches are developed and persons choose to intermingle with the familiar as opposed to openly sharing and blending their culture.
Our exposure comes from the moments that we take as “foreigners” to impede on this created niche. It is because of the accessibility in terms of travel that many have confused the idea of the melting pot with availability. And this brings me to the idea of importing culture.
There are certain tastes that we simply have to acquire abroad either because of reputation or lack of availability. The macaron (not to be confused with the coconut macaroon) has up until now become one of these in the city. Granted, there are patisseries that make them, the consistency or the taste never delivers the same quality with which we associate a trip to Paris.
Earlier this month, however, it doesn’t seem as though our craving for the almond flour-based treat is confined to France anymore; Ladurée made its way to the Upper East Side in a small boutique space along Madison Avenue. By bringing the famed patisserie, we are satisfying this hunger for a culture that would otherwise be inaccessible. And the reception can well be ascertained from the forty minute lines that await entry through the doors.
So what can be said about this? Without extending this entry into something of the likes of an essay, I can say that this example on its own presents an interesting note of importing, as opposed to integrating. The object, in this case Ladurée, stands alone and apart – it signifies a richness and a foreign allure, as opposed to signifying a part of New York culture. With that said, I wonder if it ever will, or are these “objects” meant to retain the meaning of “exoticism.”