Euro Food Part II: Pâte de Fruits

Friday, 22 October 2010

There are some foods that are particularly European. Maybe people think of fine wine, truffles, baguettes and ravioli. But for cyclists there are some particular foods that stand out. As part of a series about food in Europe for riding, here’s the second: pâte de fruits.

Product description
Pâte de Fruits means fruit paste. It’s essential boiled fruit with sugar. Think of jam in a more solid form. It can come in different flavours but it’s always incredibly sweet.

Euro Cyclist Use
Old-skool race food. Once used in race food but today people are careful of the insulin backlash. For the closing minutes of a race or instant energy on a training ride when instant calories are a must, for example during a snowstorm.

Background
These are often consumed like chocolate and exchanged as gifts. Like jam making it started as a way of preserving fruit and today it’s for the sweet-tooth. The ingredients are simple: sugar, fruit and pectin. Some manufacturers will add an acid, whether lemon juice or something more commercial, this makes the taste a bit sharper.

Whilst this is a sweet treat for many in France, it’s still consumed today by cyclists in France today and you’ll even find some in the musette of a French rider during the Tour de France. It’s usually wrapped in cellophane otherwise it is very sticky. Once opened you certainly can’t put half a bar back into your pocket.

I’m skeptical about the use of this food as it’s so high in sugar that you might as well chew on a sugar cube, and this gives a quick sugar rush but your body responds by producing insulin and in no time, the excess energy is mopped up and then the spare insulin starts reducing the blood sugar.

That said I’ll still buy this from time to time. It’s useful on training rides in the winter, I like to take a few small bars in my back pocket on a very cold ride, it gives ready calories ahead of a long descent.

You might be able to find this in sweet shops and chocolate specialists outside France but in France and Belgium this is a staple that’s available in supermarkets.

This is part of a series on European foods with links to cycling or simply for fuel:
Part I: Nutella
Part II: Pâte de fruits
Part III: Stroopwafels
Part IV: Coffee
Part V: Frites
Part VI: Pasta
Part VII: French Bakeries
Part VIII: Water
Part IX: Sirop
Part X: Pharmaceuticals
Part XI: Summary
Part XII: Esta Thé
Part XIII: Grated carrots
Part XIV: Speculoos
Part XV: Belgian beer
Part XVI: Oman Coffee
Part XVI: Italian Ice-cream

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{ 8 comments }

curium October 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Looks similar to Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles and Fruit Gums sold in the UK

TheInnerRing October 22, 2010 at 1:17 pm

It's not chewy, it is more like solidified jam. But only just, it is very soft for example you can push a finger down to cut a bar in half.

Anonymous October 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

I find this not good food for cycling. But good in emergency. If you get the hyperglycaemia it helps you get energy back fast.

Christian
Porrentruy, Switzerland

mountain_racer October 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I use something similar, but with no added sugar, just real fruit:

http://stretchislandfruit.com/ProductsFruitStrips.aspx

TheInnerRing October 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Hi Christian, yes you are right the sugar goes straight in. That's why I like it for winter but worry about it for racing.

That looks good mountain racer but it's not as loaded in calories! It's nicer to eat though, I'd snack on that.

Reuben October 22, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I was Geneva recently and think I had some of this. Quite nice as a treat, but agree RE: not for race food.

Enjoying the series, and the blog!

Richard October 23, 2010 at 1:25 am

I never heard of this until now. Hmm sounds like the right thing to have on the go. Enjoyed the post!

grumpyoldman November 13, 2011 at 10:47 am

“I’m skeptical about the use of this food as it’s so high in sugar that you might as well chew on a sugar cube, and this gives a quick sugar rush but your body responds by producing insulin and in no time, the excess energy is mopped up and then the spare insulin starts reducing the blood sugar.”

Interesting. I’ve been using these for years, and typically consume five or six on a three hour ride. Are you saying I should be more sparing in order to avoid the insulin backlash?

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