For more than a week now the Tour de France has been dominated by talk of Michael "Chicken" Rasmussen, and for the press meat has been the predominant theme of the race. While fans may rate stage finishes by the quality of the racing, for the press this is a secondary concern behind the quality of the buffet lunch served. Stages are remembered less by so-and-so's victory and more by the quality of the foie gras or the local vintage that the local farmers and wine-makers are so keen to put in front of the international press.
In recent days, when the race has been close to the Med, where the locals are renowned for having one of the best diets in the world, meat has dominated. In addition to "Chicken" dominating the racing, the press have been inundated with protein in the press tent buffet as well. Foie gras, blood sausage, burgers cooked rare and bloody and all kinds of other meaty goodies that would have delighted Dr. Atkins and his dietary adherents have been served up. We've not had a sniff of the salad and fruit that make the Mediterranean diet a model.
Yesterday in Foix, as I sat in the sun munching through that burger with the barely heated juices running down mychin, a veggie member of the press corps approached the meat-laden trestle tables and enquired which of the local goodies he could sample, a query greeted with guffaws and much shrugging. He trudged off with a bottle of water and directions to the nearest supermarket.
Today, though, the fine farming folk of Loudenvielle have come up trumps. Naturally, we got fine cuts of meat once more, but for the first time in some days we've had fruit - a timely move as some of the press pack were showing the first symptoms of scurvy.