News flash: I have finally discovered the real reason that Roger Federer is not playing in the U.S. Open. Forget the knee injury. He’s simply been too busy learning how to cook.
I should back that up a bit by saying that I was recently at a dinner, hosted by Moët & Chandon, where I got the chance to witness Federer in action—not playing tennis, but slicing up Maine scallops with chef Enrique Olvera of New York’s Cosme restaurant (and the internationally acclaimed Pujol in Mexico City). The two were making Olvera’s scallop aguachile, a type of Mexican ceviche, layering thin rounds of sweet scallop with disks of poached jicama, micro-diced red onion, and micro-sliced Serrano peppers, then zapping the whole thing with a wasabi-cucumber-lime vinaigrette. (Admission: I was making the same dish. Second admission: The micro slicing-and-dicing was done neither by Federer nor myself, but by Olvera’s kitchen staff. Reality does have to play a role here, right?)
Federer is renowned for his surgical precision on the tennis court, but having watched him in action, I’d say his scallop-slicing skills are pretty close. Hand the man a racket, hand him a chef’s knife, apparently it’s more or less the same thing. I offer for contrast my own scallop rounds, which looked sort of lopsided in comparison. Maybe I just need a chef as skilled as Olvera as my coach; or maybe I need to be a demi-god-like pro athlete with superhuman coordination and reflexes. I'll work on that.