The latest bulletin from the world of cuisine does not come from the world at all. Like Moon Pies and Mars Bars, it comes from outer space.
French astronaut Patrick Baudry, who is riding aboard the space shuttle Discovery with five Americans and a Saudi prince, declared that he would not eat the standard-issue NASA slop, preferring instead to brown-bag it mealwise for the one-week excursion in the Earth's orbit.While the others are bent over their miserable fare like the orphans of "Oliver Twist," Baudry is dining alfresco, sort of, on jugged hare (jugged hare?) alsacienne, lobster americain, baguettes, crab mousse, cantal cheese and pa te'. All of it was prepared in France, canned and then shipped to the Johnson Space Center. NASA approved the menu and Baudry's stomach smiled.
And Tang for the monsieur?
Mais non! (But no!)
It's said that he asked -- the utter Gaul! -- if he could bring a bit of table wine aboard, but NASA nixed that notion. There is no word on whether Baudry managed to sneak a flask of Armagnac into the craft.
Baudry was appalled by the American menu of chicken a la king and beef with noodles. The Saudi prince, Sultan Salman Al-Saud, said the food tasted fine to him, though he did pack a bunch of dates for a nosh.
"Our food tradition is very ancient," Baudry lectured before the launch. "It is part of our civilization. It is very important. In America you don't have that same concept of food."
Baudry may have been thinking of the ascetic tradition of Henry David Thoreau, who when asked what was his favorite dish replied, "The nearest." Baudry might have thought it typical of Americans that the mission commander in Houston said "a meal is a waste of time."
The Village Voice, a once-hungry weekly now gone fat with ads for dietetic futons and Afghani massage techniques, once published a screed titled "500 Reasons to Hate the French." But how can you dislike a guy who will not be without his lunch?
Think of the old Katz's Deli ad -- "Send a salami to your boy in the Army." Now it's "Send a hare to a space legionnaire."