November 19, 2004
On Sunday night, wanting to put the finishing touches on my talk, I decide to stay in and have dinner in my room, a small room with a view out onto the harbour, in the four-star Cannes hotel where the Gourmet Voice festival is taking place.
I order a club sandwich of course, not hesitating for one second : the first room service of my life, it has to be the epitomical sandwich, no? Besides, club sandwiches are one of the better inventions of mankind, and an opportunity to eat one should never be passed up.
The club sandwich arrives moments later, wheeled in on a tablecloth-clad table by a red-suit-wearing, white-haired, phonebook-serious majordomo. He maneuvers the table up between the bed and the television, and expertly hooks the collapsible sides back up so the table is, once again, nice and round, adorned as it is with a pink rose in a little vase and a brand new ketchup glass bottle.
The good thing about a club sandwich -- besides the bacon and the mayonnaise and the fact that the crusts have been removed for you just like when you were little -- is that it is cold, so it can wait patiently until you're ready to eat it, when the work is done. (Well, maybe the vinaigrette will have slightly cooked the salad, but you cannot let your work be derailed by this kind of thought.)
Of course, this particular club sandwich had a tad more mayonnaise than I like and I must protest vigorously against the inclusion of sliced hard-boiled egg, but that's not the point. The point is to sit cross-legged on the edge of the bed, barefoot and wrapped in the extra-large extra-plush embroidered bathrobe (or even wrapped in two extra-large extra-plush embroidered bathrobes, if such had been my fancy, for the hotel room was thus equipped). Pouring a big blob of ketchup from the bottle onto the side of the plate. Picking up one of the four club triangles and removing the large toothpick holding it together (for piercing the roof of your mouth with a huge shard may put a damper on the experience). Dipping one end of the triangle in the ketchup, and biting into it with varying degrees of rapaciousness.
The salad can be ignored if one wishes, it's not going to cancel out the bacon and mayo anyway, and it requires the use of silverware, which is against the whole philosophy. The TV can also be turned on randomly, or a magazine, bought at the airport but not yet broken into, can be leafed through.
The triangles will deconstruct themselves as you eat, the middle layers being pushed outwards by the pressure of your teeth, ketchup and mayonnaise smearing your fingers, and, quite possibly, the tip of your nose. But that's what the napkin is for, and that's why, as you come to understand, le club sandwich is so well suited to the delightful privacy of room service, for one.
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