‘It fills my heart when people can just eat what they want to and there is still food left at the end’ – João Taborda 2012
Cycling up a hill towards Valli Unite this evening, just after my first ripe fig which I have been waiting for for months, I realised that it’s been a while since I wrote something and I thought that I would spend a little time collecting my biketour memories so far, using our encounters with a vast variety of foods of all shapes and sizes to help me.
Apples – We woke up one morning in Avignon to the realisation that we had wild camped in an abandoned orchard. Sam and I had a bit of a Jane Austin moment gathering the wind-falls for the rest of the group. It was hard to leave, the thought of all that potential cider going to waste!
Aubergine – We found the best heart-shaped aubergine on our way of Barcelona at an amazing cooperatively supported farm in the Llobregat delta, just one of the places set to be affected by the insane Eurovegas casino plans. Second best aubergine memory is Nick becoming an honorary Italian at the NO TAV action camp by very professionally smothering garlic oil over slices cooked on hot rocks.
Beetroot – Last week we had ‘Beetroot day’ where we had this most vibrant of underground delights for lunch, dinner and cake to celebrate Jaye’s Birthday. Pink food is good for the soul and makes peeing just that little more exciting. Good times.
Carrot – Hercules the ant managed to move this giant piece of grated carrot all the way along Koen’s leg at Can Masdeu, very impressive!
Chili Peppers – Last night in the squat in Asti, I challenged Zack to eat quarter of a chili-pepper. We both had to drink straight olive oil to stop the pain. I think I am sometimes 5 years old.
Chocolate – On the way out of Marseille the king of skipping, Eugene, uncovered 10Kgs of chocolate, plus a mountain of cakes and biscuits. This was right after making 3 variations of Tiramisu. Also just before the tour Joao’s squat skipped haalf a chocolate bear from the chocolate museum, it was bigger than half of me!
Coffee – A favorite memory is one lucky wild camping night we met a Portuguese family with four little kittens who took us in for the night, we had just met the Serious Beans and at that point there were over 35 of us, all playing along to the music. Just before we were about to sleep they set up a small table and served us all sweet coffee. We so grateful for their hospitality and kindness.
Crumble – Again Eugene, the guru of sweet things, created a masterpiece for Alba on her birthday morning. Unfortunately after slaving away till 4 in the morning he was unable to partake in the crack of dawn festivities, so I had to retrieve it from the pizza oven. At 7am it was still warm! We ate happily and sang songs in the daily road block we joined that morning to disrupt the TAV construction workers.
Cucumbers – The best form for cucumbers is Gazpacho. Way back in Barcelona for the launch of the tour we cooked enough for over 200 people as part of the most amazing feast with the degrowth group at Can Masdeu.
Figs – Despite the ones with the white juice making our tongues sore and bright red I hope there will be many many more along the way :-)
Garlic – Another staple. As well as getting through at least a head a day João and Laura try to make us eat whole garlic bulbs when we look like we are getting ill.
Hazel nuts are very fun to smash with a rock. Fact. They are also the most exciting thing to forage J
‘Melon melon’ – Shouting this at the top of your voice is a very good way of getting attention (to which we reply ‘sabreson sabreson’) but it also has been the delight of many a meal, especially the ones we found at the road side fruit place with the beans, the Melons of heaven they were.
Olive oil – in a fairly standard day we get through at least 1 litre! Good for oiling the bicycle moving muscles. Be careful not to mix Juri’s special oil with the normal (for me still amazing) stuff, penalty of death.
Paella – Marti and I very enthusiastically tried to cook Paella on an open fire for 40 people at Can Piella after seeing it done at Can Pasqual, we resorted to gas in the end but it was a damn fine feast.
Pasta – ‘oh that pasta’. While we have had lots of yummy pasta (including bike shaped and alphabet), we have also had the worst crunchy and gooey ‘porridge pasta’. No salt. Only bad. We arrived at midnight and still decided to cook, all in one pan. A whole carrot emerged at one point. I think we decided to blame Federick for that. Shame on you. Unsurprisingly Yolanda left the next day.
Peppers – I now can barely stand the sight of peppers, especially raw in cous-cous, especially when they are skipped and slightly going off. On the other hand stick a tent peg through one and shove it on the rocket stove, burn, peal, oil, yum.
Pesto soup – One of the most warming sights of the biketour so was arriving at Longo Mai Chantemerle (after some beautiful signs they made) though the rain to above the clouds at this hydro-powered wool collective. A table set for 20 in this wooden banquet hall, beer, wine and amazing food, first put your orzo, then pesto and cheese, and finally tomato bean soup :-)
Porridge – Probably the most notorious biketour food (which has been strangely absent in the last week…) and makes me think of the large Scottish connection that we have had this year (Nick, Lydia, Jenny, Vincent, Francesco, Natasha, Emma, Alice, Clara, Jaye and Natalie!) runny, stodgy, with nuts, local honey, peaches, apples….
‘Swiss’ Porridge – Inspired by Kate and a broken rocket stove this no cook version with grated apples and all other delicious things is very yummy. For Miguel this is Porridge version 2.0.
Tomatoes – Today I saw more tomatoes than I have even seen in my life, possibly more than all of the tomatoes I have ever seen, all added together. It began by a mysterious huge pile on the side of the road and then a giant lorry with an open top drove past FULL to the brim, ah Italia!
Vegan chocolate truffles – best dessert so far, for Leonie’s birthday by the beautiful (man-made) Lac du Sautet where we stayed before and after La Tilia and had lots of driftwood for our wood carving workshops.
Wine – best wine memory so far has to be Vincent valiantly carting a giant box up to Le Maquis, this helped very much in the crazy preparation of midnight emergency pink dahl to recharge us after a surprise 8km hill after Minerve, without a doubt the hardest climb so far. I suspect that my second favorite wine memory is about to be created here at cooperative farm Valli Unite where they are having their biggest party of the year to celebrate the start of the wine harvest and we are here for the whole weekend to help, yippee!