|One More Croissant for the Road by Felicity Cloake|
One More Croissant for the Road by Felicity Cloake
Felicity is a food writer hooked on cycle touring, so decides to bring together her two passions and plot herself a 21 stage Tour of France (just like the great Tour de France cycle race), but bases her stages on the home towns of some of her favourite French foods. This ticked all the boxes for me; memoir, cycling, cycle touring, France, food and croissants, I honestly can’t think of anything else I need in a book and I couldn’t wait to get reading.
|Inside cover One More Croissant for the Road by Felicity Cloake, illustrations ©Sara Mulvanny|
Sometimes camping and travelling alone, sometimes accompanied by friends or family and with the luxury of a real bed to sleep in, this book is a review of meals and the cycle rides or train journeys that join them together. We follow her route from the oysters, moules, omelettes and crepes of Normandy and Brittany, south to the beef of Limoges and hot chocolate of Bayonne before she heads east to indulge in Cassoulet and Provençal fish soup, among other delights. From feasts in Lyon as she heads north to the home of mountain cheeses and choucroute in Alsace, her journey comes to a close as she cycles through Champagne country and makes her way to Paris for a well-researched croissant fest. There is no doubt this book will make you hungry as you read it and even I was surprised at how much I didn't know about the food of France.
A boulangerie croissant has been my weekly treat on a Sunday morning for many years and I too enjoy indulging daily while on a bike tour, but once again Felicity takes it further, scoring her croissants out of ten – why have I never considered this? I also really enjoyed the Pause Café sections, quick bites of useful France-related information conveniently slotted within the chapters and for those of us who enjoy cooking, Felicity includes her recipes for us to try too.
There is rain (lots of rain), steep climbs and erratic opening hours that would challenge even the most ardent Francophile and while her mood is constantly changing and she sheds the odd tear in frustration and disappointment, she robustly takes it all in her stride and never loses her love for France or a good meal. There was more than one occasion that I took my hat off to her with the variety (and quantity) of food she managed to put away, especially the offal-based delights French-born people naturally love, but don’t often get a warm reception from the overseas palate. Even her friends seemed to be able to order and enjoy the obscure.
Every now and then I come across a book that describes one of my dream ideas and this is one of those books. If I’m honest, I was initially a little upset that Felicity has beaten me to it, although I have to admit she probably made a better job of it than I would have done.
One More Croissant for the Road, published by Mudlark, an imprint of HarperColins Publishers is currently available in hardback and ebook versions, links to Amazon can be found below.