by Pete Bodo
Mornin', everyone. This will be your Crisis Center for today.
Shortly after I settled into my desk (No. 58 in the International Writer's room here at Roland Garros) I ran up one flight to the always valuable press bar, looking for a sandwich. Usually, I grab one at a concession stand on my way to the desk, having learned long ago that going to the press restaurant, with its entrecote frites (steak and fries), gorgonzola cheese, pate and free-flowing vin du pays is death, unless you enjoy falling asleep at 6-5 in the third-set tiebreaker during the match of the day on Chatrier.
The menu options are limited up in the press bar. I'm a diehard sandwich jambo et fromage avec et moutarde guy. That's the French for you, they can take a word like "mustard" and make it spell and sound like some kind of lingerie or the magisterial name of a venerable philosopher. A Foucault, or perhaps Rochefecauld.
Moutarde. Wasn't that the guy who wrote: Mon Coeur, Mon Carnet, Mon Cornichon. . .?
In these parts, they don't care much for "hard" sounds like the "o" in "hot" or "dog," or the "s" in mustard, better to go with something mellifluous. . . smooth. . .sweet. Something like. . . moooo-tard. Now that's civilized. Never mind that some of the dijon moo-tard they serve here will blister your tongue.
But I've always been intrigued by the "haute daug" they serve here, without ever having one. Our classic hot dog bun in the USA is so soft and malleable that it could be used in the breast-implant industry. But here they use a crisp, crusty baguette. So I ordered my haute daug and watched as the server, a zoftig blonde girl, partially sliced the baguette lengthwise, then impaled it (vertically) on one in a row of aluminum rods, each roughly an inch in diameter.
I assume these rods are warmed, and work a little like the heated towel bar in the hotel. After a bit, my server ambled back to fish a haute daug out of a nearby steamer. The French hot dog is pale orange, and easily twice as long as its American kin. So it's disconcertingly serpentine, like a length of intestine. I presume this is a nod to the French taste for bodily parts other than muscle; things that make a rube like me go pale and think: No way I'm eating that. . . .
Well, my server slipped the haute daug into its crusty little sleeping bag and slid it into a crisp and crinkly paper sleeve with signature Roland Garros rust-and-white stripes. But the bag dropped out of her hand and fell to the black mat on the floor. She scooped it up pronto and cast a quick look at me. She said, with a suspect degree of confidence, "It didn't touch the ground."
Well, I thought, who am I to argue?
I waved her over and paid, adding a bag of chips, and a short beer.
I'm accustomed to a fairly spicy haute daug (my preference is for Nathan's), even though I don't really want to know what goes into the making of it. So I was a little disappointed in the Parisian hot dog; it struck me as bland, like some type of bratwurst. Anything that tastes like Tofu (or, I imagine, like a styrofoam packing peanut, if you took the trouble to fry it up) just doesn't fly with me.
But the beer was excellent and so was the tennis that came later.
Enjoy it today, folks. I'll probably write about the Federer vs. Soderling match.