There are two universal truths known to cycle tourists; first that one should never carry any unnecessary weight on the ride and second that at the end of each day there is a ravenous feeling of emptiness that can only be filled by food packed with carbs and preferably (though not always necessarily) deliciousness.
These two truths can sometimes contend with each other. For example, do I want to carry all this ham up that hill? And, yes it would be lighter to just carry this loaf of bread, but I’d really also like to carry this leg of deli ham and block of hard cheese to make this bread even more delicious. And so forth.
So, unless you’re doing what’s called a ‘Credit card tour’* you’re going to have to carry food. In my time without a tour (known also as the wilderness months of sadness and dissolution) I will endeavour to record creative and delicious and economical and light (in weight) meals to satisfy the touring stomach.
My first receipe is a bastardisation of what I usually eat when I’m not touring, and what’s available at the time. There’s nothing more delicious than a beautifully cooked pasta meal. And I mean, delicious pasta. Homemade pasta, sauce from scratch – as in the only thing from the bottle is maybe tomato paste.
Obviously this not possible when touring because it takes too long to make and also because you don’t really want to carry all the ingredients. So my first suggestion when touring is to get a little herbs and spices box. I think a few little tins could do this job – like those vintage tins that hipsters use to keep their mints, or just an old mint tin. Whatever. Fill one with pepper, one with salt (and rice to stop the salt from absorbing too much atmospheric moisture) and another with your most versatile mix of herbs – I personally would choose some basil, oregano, rosemary and maybe some lemon grass. I would also have a fourth tin for dried garlic – just because I have a problem, and this problem is to always be surrounded by deliciousness.
Then all you need to pack in your pannier is some pasta (flat pasta types are best for space economy), any tomato-type sauce, and then some camembert cheese. I know this sounds crazy – but just go with it. Here’s what you do. Cook the pasta in boiling water as usual, and then pour out most of the water – keeping maybe a quarter of a cup in with the pasta. Then pour in your sauce and herbs and stir it until the sauce has picked up some of the temperature and heated up. Most bottled pasta sauces don’t need to be cooked – just heated up.
Obviously by now you would have stolen some packets of sugar from every cafe or shop that you stopped at to fill up on water supplies. Sprinkle about half a sachet of sugar over the pasta and stir it again. This takes the edge off the acidity of the preservatives in the sauce. Season the sauce and put in some extra herbs if the bottled sauce needs a little something-something to get it going. Then toss in some chopped up chunks of camembert cheese and continue to stir until the cheese is melted and the colour of the sauce has changed from a bright acidic red to the sweeter red of love. Serve immediately and eat – I recommend eating it straight out of the pot and then using a couple of slices of bread to wipe up the remaining sauce and cheese off the sides.
If you need meat, then adding a tin of tuna could also go into this meal, or if you’re in a fancy mood, carrying a couple of vacuum sealed chorizo sausages should be easy. The only thing about this would be that you have to fry it up in a separate pan. Although the fat juices from the chorizo would make a lovely addition to the flavours in the meal – and would give you a little extra kick for the ride the next day.
The best part about this meal is that it could take less then 15 minutes to prepare; it’s cheap and it’s crammed full of carbs. It has the bonus of being delicious, with a few ingredients and a great flavour too.
Now here are some carb-related images to tide you over while the water boils:
*For rich people and others who have sugar daddies (which if I continue to cycle as much as I intend – I may be hot enough to attain said sugar daddy, in which case – stuff this, put all my food expenses on this Gold Credit Card made of real gold).