“I’ll just grab some hummus”, said Alex as he walked into the store.
“The rich man’s peanut butter and jam”, Kristian and I decided wittily.
A self-proclaimed Epicurean, Alex’s tastes become apparent as he enjoys fruits de mer with olives and cheese for dinner, while we eat plain boiled rice and fried eggs. Our dinner is a mix of tour tradition, budgetary circumstance and simplicity (read: saving time and washing up, read: laziness). His is acquired from three separate independent local stores in Kamouraska.
The smoked eel comes from one fumoir (a smokehouse) and the smoked herring and pickled mussels from another, because the first’s were not up to scratch. The hummus, olives and cheese are from the déppaneur.
We agreed early on that we wouldn’t force Alex to eat food with the highest calories for the lowest price and effort, if he didn’t try to force us to eat campsite haute cuisine each night. This results in complex accounting after each supermarket visit becoming necessary, as various items on the same receipt are split two or three ways.
During his first few days riding with us though, things already begin to approach a happy medium: flavour in porridge becomes compulsory, and Alex agrees to eat it. Rice and eggs are allowed to remain on the menu, but are supplemented with a makeshift spice rack of cumin, chilli flakes, and curry and garlic powders. Compromises meaning that on day 4 we all share chilli burritos – a dinner somewhere in between the ones mentioned previously – rather than eyeing each other suspiciously over wildly different plates.
Any efforts to change the institution that is peanut butter and jam sandwiches, though, will be met with fierce resistance.