Non-racers go further still, and in fact some cyclists are genuine foodies. There is now an emerging sub-genre of cycling food bloggers. They include Sam the Cycling Cook from Leicestershire and the Epicurean Cyclist who guides us on the delights of Belgium waffles on tour in Southern California.
One of the questions that the reporter asked (who happens to be a big fan of Rivendell, btw!), was when did cycling food change from "real food" to squishy goo. While I think its impossible to give an exact date and time, I think it has a lot to do with marketing. Just as people think the latest carbon-fiber-electronic-shifting-bicycle-shaped-object will make them go faster, the same assumptions are made about space-age goo dispensed from foil packets.
Simply put, they're spending the advertising dollars so they got a lot of press. Like Laura pointed out to me when we were talking about it, there's probably not a giant apple lobby pushing the agenda of Big Apple in Bicycling magazine. Aside from the marketing, I think there's also just the basic human desire to believe that performance or happiness is a shiny packaged object away.
Now, to be fair, there are instances when goo is indeed good. While eating a roasted chicken from your handlebar bag during a triathlon is more satisfying, it probably isn't very practical. Goo has a home in competitive cycling and sports. However, the causal rider that is pedaling at a comfy 12mph for a days ride, probably doesn't need to suck down XtremeUltraPowerMegaGel like their life depended on it. Horses for courses.
For the kind of riding I'm interested in, the goo can stay at home. I much prefer real food, especially foods from little cafes, or the local farmers market, or that are regional specialties. Or if I'm going to pack food with me, I'll go to the local grocer and get some cured meats and hard cheese for the road, something which I prefer over gels.
Some of my greatest memories of being on tour are inextricably tied to food. Having a cone of Bubblegum flavored Tillamook ice-cream for breakfast in Oregon, eating nearly a pound of fresh oysters and salmon at camp in Reedsport, drinking fresh brews at Pizza Port on the Southern California coast, eating arguably some of the best Belgian Waffles of my life at the Filling Station in Orange, having the thickest juiciest slices of bacon at Hoover's Beef Palace during the Great Western Bike Rally in Paso...the list goes on.
Dang. Now I'm hungry.