We’ve come to the final stage of the Tour and tradition has it that the winner is already decided, barring an unprecedented attack or accident. Still, crossing the line on the Champs-Élysées is something the sprinters will be battling for – will Cowvendish be laughing at the end of today?
Starting a mere 8km outside of Paris, the pelaton will take a gentle, winding Sunday ride for 95 km until hitting the Champs-Élysées and letting the sprinters loose for a few circuits. This will give you plenty of time to view the background landmarks (look them up in your Frommers if necessary), drink some champagne and treat yourself to some …ummm…. readily available “speciality cheese” to mark the occasion.
The Laughing Cow (French: La vache qui rit) is a brand of cheese products and in particular refers to the brand’s most popular product, the spreadable wedge. Wikipedia (Honestly we can’t make these things up!)
Perhaps the “spreadable wedge” version of this processed cheese, made with cream, milk and aged cheese such as Comté, was the inspiration for their long running support of Le Tour de France?
Whatever the reason, the La Vache qui Rit have often been a part of the promotional caravan that precedes the Le Tour as it travels around France.
39% of spectators come first and foremost to see the caravan
The (caravan), with a parade of originally decorated vehicles “advertising their wares” by giving away gifts, was immediate. The first advertisers, like Vache qui rit (the Laughing Cow) won a place in the hearts of the public, who willingly joined in the fun. Eighty years later, the publicity caravan has become an integral part of the event that is the Tour de France. It goes hand in hand with the race that it precedes, with the multi-shaped and multi-coloured procession lasting more than 45 minutes. Young and old alike at the roadside marvel at the inventiveness of the floats and vehicles and clamour to grab the gifts… In total, a survey carried out amongst people who come to watch the Tour reveals that 39% of spectators come first and foremost to see the publicity caravan. From the official Le Tour de France website.
They say they give away 16 million gifts via the publicity caravan each year.
If you’ve not actually in France at the moment watching Le Tour, you might be tempted to pick up some processed cheese treats to snack on during this last stage, as no-one in a bikini is likely to throw some at your head.
Never fear – the team at Las Vaches has made a late night, incognito trip to our local supermarket and sourced a few varieties to taste test, giving you the best guide to Laughing Cow-style processed cheeses around.
The Original Laughing Cow, the Kiri version of the Laughing Cow and two “pretenders”: the Happy Cow and Picon.
The tasting team took into account how easy it was to open the wedge of cheese with the “little red string”, the ingredients, the taste, the aftertaste, and the texture into our ratings. In order of “I would actually eat this” to “pffft pft pft where’s the spitbucket”:
- Happy Cow – made in Austria, this has a distinct “Swiss Cheese” flavour and had the least scary list of ingredients.
- Laughing Cow Original – now made in Poland, I wouldn’t say this was a win really.
- Laughing Cow Kiri – it’s cream cheese, not even shelf-stable, it’s just cream cheese, flown all the way from Poland.
- Picon – made in Morocco in “French Style Portions” from skim milk, milk fat and cheese this tasted rancid and threatened to make us all sick. Literally. Best avoided.
But of course – even if it is processed cheese .. it’s French processed cheese so I’m sure you will be pleased to know that the Bel cheese factory was set up in 1865 and they started manufacturing Laughing Cow cheese in 1921. There is of course a museum of La Vache qui Rit in the Jura region.
Enjoy tonight, I can’t wait to see Cadel grinning from ear-to-ear, and I reckon Cowvendish will win the green jersey. A historic day for Australian cycling. Thanks for sharing the journey with us.