Eating
A Fortune, lost and found

A Fortune, lost and found

An imposing corner building in the small Texas town of New Braunfels, the Phoenix Saloon opened for business in 1871. Back in the 19th century, the ground floor held a bar, the basement briefly housed a brewery (a keg of beer cost a princely $2.25), the garden contained an alligator pit and the back room...
Barriga llena, corazón contento

Barriga llena, corazón contento

In 2013, Mexico jiggled ahead of the USA as the developed world’s fattest country, with 70% of the population overweight and a third obese. The UN report pointed the finger at the usual all-you-can-eat buffet of poverty, urbanisation and the industrialisation of the food supply. We haven’t been left unscathed by this epidemic: despite cycling...
You say paste, I say pasty

You say paste, I say pasty

‘After the mines closed in the 1990s,’ said Pedro, ‘the town really struggled.’ We nodded, sagely. When a company town loses the company that sustains it, the ending is rarely happy. But in this case, there was a twist. ‘It was the pasty that revived us.’ Perhaps, at this point, a little context is required....
In Oaxaca

In Oaxaca

It takes a stubborn cyclist to tour through Mexico without taking in the city of Oaxaca de Juárez. The alternative routes through the country to the north are apparently a bore, while bypassing the city to the south requires an extended visit to the troubled state of Guerrero. It’s not quite correct to say that...
Straight into the confectionery stall and out again

Straight into the confectionery stall and out again

In ‘Mountains of the Mind‘, an elegant cultural history of our relationship with the world’s tallest peaks, Robert Macfarlane explores a concept that, embodied in a single word, is key to understanding our attitudes to epic summits. The concept, writes Macfarlane, ‘revolutionised both the perception of wild landscapes and contemporary attitudes to fear’. He continues:...
Eat this

Eat this

I’m in a shared colectivo taxi stuffed with hands of bananas, sacks of rice, bike panniers and two other passengers, both dozing. Today’s route, which begins with a 2,200m climb up a giant cleft of a valley into ragged highlands, is too much for me, so I’m taking public transport while Will rides. His journey...
In Lima

In Lima

Although it was first proposed by a linguist, a certain George Kingsley Zipf, the statistical model known as Zipf’s Law is now often used to gauge the expected size of urban populations. In brief, the law holds that the second largest city in a country should be roughly half the size of the largest city;...
¿Para comer?

¿Para comer?

Breakfast: two plain scones with butter and dulce de leche; Nescafé Snacks: halva bar; banana Lunch: three beef empanadas; grapefruit squash Snacks: ice cream; walnuts Dinner: steak with chips (Will) or salad (Ruth), or pasta with indeterminate sauce; small beer The nutrition pages of cycling magazines turn food into chemical formulae, with capital-p Performance as the desired...
Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad

In Argentina, they don’t hang about passively waiting for Christmas Day to arrive. The evening of Christmas Eve is when the main festivities take place; or, at least, that’s when the family that owns the posada where we’re staying choose to celebrate. On 24 December each year, they host a Christmas dinner for their family...
In Porto Alegre

In Porto Alegre

The approach to Porto Alegre was not a journey we were anticipating with any great relish. The major roads, we were told, grow filthy with trucks as you near the city, while staying off the main arteries would force us through neighbourhoods we’d do well to avoid. A little research, though, revealed an alternative, a...