PBP: Tastes

I suspect the best food of PBP is not found at the large controls where everyone stops, like Brest or Loudéac. Volunteers there must plan to feed each one of the 6000+ hungry riders moving through. Those stops are purely concerned with volume. Will there be enough pasta, enough baguettes, enough coffee to feed the ravenous horde? Quality takes a back seat, and rightly so. Most people are famished, and would eat anything.

However, for the rider willing to make that extra stop and spend time lingering at a roadside tent, there are plenty of culinary delights. Two examples on my ride — leaving Loudéac after the first night’s sleep, we stumbled upon a roadside tent serving heaping portions of mussels and fries. The mussels were cooked in garlic and white wine sauce, and the fries had soaked in all of the briny juice, all for a 5 euro note.

Second was a similar tent where we initially planned to grab a quick snack and leave immediately. After picking out a baguette that I planned to stuff in my jersey pocket, I spied a giant dutch oven filled with beef stew. I pointed excitedly and said one of the few French phrases I know — “Ce la, sil vous plait!” The volunteer’s face lit up and she replied, “Ah! Boeuf burgogne!” She grabbed a huge bowl and ladled a healthy portion of steaming hot potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and beef. We spent an extra 20 minutes at the stop while I savored the meal, but it was worth every second.