Your cultural guide to the 2023 Tour de France Femmes: stage 8

It's the final episode! To celebrate, let's eat some cabbage stew with assorted meats in it.

Image: Arnaud 25/Wikimedia Commons

For every stage of the 2023 Tour de France – men’s and women’s – José Been is bringing you stories about the history, castles, geology, culture, food, and people around the race. A bit of couleur locale while you enjoy lush fields of sunflowers, beautiful mountains, and pretty little villages, oh, and the bike race too.

We end the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift with a time trial of 22.6 kilometers which is about the same distance I do on Zwift per session. The time trial is 200 meters longer than the men’s one but a lot less hilly. We race a loop to the south of Pau. You might remember this as the birth place of King Henry IV who reigned from 1589 to 1610. He was the one who was baptized with a drop of wine and a clove of garlic

It is also the birth place of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte in 1763. He served in the army with Napoleon but when, in 1810, the Swedish king didn’t have an heir, he became King of Sweden thanks to the recommendation of Napoleon. His descendants of the House of Bernadotte are also on the throne today in Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, and of course Sweden. Influential family.  

I am pretty sure these royals would not have eaten what is now one of the signature dishes of Pau and the region. Garbure was essentially a poor man’s food. It’s a hearty stew and I am also not sure this is what the riders will be craving after eight stages. Maybe just pizza or burgers? But here is a recipe anyways.

Garbure is a cabbage stew with pieces of potato and meat. The garbure was the daily food of the peasants and varied from one house to another depending on the produce from the vegetable garden and the meat available or left over.

Served as a soup or as a main course, the garbure can be adapted to everyone’s needs. When it comes to vegetables, anything is possible. Green cabbage or any cabbage, beans, peas, onions, garlic, carrots, turnips and even lettuce, chestnuts, and nettles. I am not sold on the nettles. Are you? 

Let’s add some meat. Duck leg seems nice but then it could also be the carcass, some goose giblets, dried pork knuckle, the core of a large ham, or a piece of pig’s neck, bacon, or sausage.

I am not convinced and will give it a pass and go back to my beloved cheese of the Ossau-Irraty from the region we already tasted all the way back at the start of the month. Maybe with a glass of wine to celebrate the end of an amazing month of racing?

Because this is it. We have made it to the last of this series around the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes. I hope you enjoyed my stories on a wide variety of subjects including kings and cavemen, huge fossils of clams, and footsteps of dinosaurs. We drank wine and ate steak, cheese, and cake for dessert. There was geology and history from hundreds of millions ago to a mere century ago. We talked about the chickens and the bears and looked at some cycling history with all its heroism.

If you enjoyed it and are not a member of Escape Collective yet, please consider becoming a member to support my writing and assuring this series returns for 2024. For now, au revoir et vive le Tour de France!

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