One of many reasons why Anthony Tan keeps on coming back to the Tour is the gastronomic spread put on by the finish towns for the journalists, otherwise known as 'Le buffet de presse’.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


The buffet is great TanMan – so long as you like ham
As
I walked into the press room at the finish of today's third stage
finish in Redon, circa 2 p.m. Central European Time, the first thing I
felt was my stomach.

It needed to be filled, for it had already
been three hours since I last stuffed my face at breakfast before
leaving our hotel in Nantes, the marvellous five-, er, I mean, two-star
All Seasons Nantes sud Rezé. (Names can be deceiving, can't they? Last
night, I dreamt I was at the Four Seasons in Ubud, Bali, staying with
the fetching blond podium girl that agreed to marry me only days before,
where, from our infinity lap pool, we watched the sun set below the
vermillion horizon before making love. Then I woke up.)

Oh yes, back to my stomach…

Lucky
for me and the 300-400 print journalists at this year's Tour de France,
on most days our lunchtime dietary requirements are met by way of 'le buffet de presse'.
A spread put on by the town locals to keep us hacks smashing away at
our keyboards throughout the afternoon and evening, it gives us poorly
paid scribes a chance to sample the foods of the region without paying
one Euro cent… Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

It
almost always comprises of raw or already-cooked foods that do not
require reheating, for we arrive at different times of the day,
depending on whether we first go to the start and how fast we drive to
the finish. To quote Raymond Babbitt (a.k.a. Dustin Hoffman) in Rain Man, I'm an excellent driver.

Inside
Redon's Complexe sportif Joseph Ricordel, I plonked my bags and lappy
down, alongside my travelling colleague for this Tour, Gregor 'I've been
blacklisted by Bjarne' Brown (Link here), and made a beeline for le buffet.

Already there before me were the SBS and Fox Sports
TV posses cutting in on the culinary action, patriarch Mike 'I've got
the 'flu and no-one gives a rat's' Tomalaris at the head of the table,
puffing on his Cuban cigar.

"Buongiorno, Don Tomo," I said,
before grasping his hand with two of mine and engaging in the customary
kiss on both sides of his face, to which he replied: "Why come to me?
What have I done to deserve such generosity?" (For effect, I made that
last bit up.)

Today was a choice of ham, couscous, or potato salad, or ham, couscous and
potato salad. Spoilt for choice, it took me somewhere between one and
three seconds' procrastination before I could decide. Ham and couscous
it would be. Too many carbs are bad for digestion.

So busy was I filling my gob a second time today, when I briefly looked up to catch my breath, Don Tomo and famiglia were gone, back to the TV truck where they belong.

Next time they would not get away unscathed, I thought to myself, butter knife in hand, before returning for seconds.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan