|The "2 X 2 X 2"|
Every so often, after living in Paris for many years, I get a craving for a real breakfast that a dainty croissant can’t satisfy. Like those Saturday morning brunches I made for my brothers as a young girl growing up in Pittsburgh: Bisquick pancakes, slathered with Imperial margarine, and swimming in Log Cabin syrup. That was the life!
Those happy memories came flooding back as I read “Pancakes in Paris,” about how an unlikely American with no restaurant experience—Craig Carlson-- started a chain of diners called “Breakfast in America” or BIA for short.
In reading the book, I worked up a pancake hunger. Yesterday, my husband and I left our cozy suburban apartment for the Latin Quarter, home of BIA No. 1.
Now I had been to BIA before, and remembered a long line and an impatient little girl—my daughter. This time, there was a short wait and no daughter, who now as a normal teenager didn’t even have enough patience to join us. Refusing a tiny table for two, we took seats at the counter. The best seats in the house--in a diner!
|CC's Big Mess: Not for vegetarians|
|BIA's diner decor|
“Thanks to the Pittsburgh diner tour, I met a diner supplier that still made the authentic 50's era boomerang laminate counter top, which I then had shipped to Paris,” Craig said in a Facebook message to me while on book tour in California.
“I have so many special memories! I wish I knew the name of the diner, but it was a 1950's shiny, classic diner where we were allowed to order whatever we wanted off the menu (included in the tour price!),” Craig said. “I also remember visiting a diner just outside of the city, where they had a muscle car show and Hank Williams, Jr. was there to sing.”
Our dishes arrived on diner-issue oval plates. My mess was hearty, to say the least, and I loved the concept of scrambled eggs and potatoes together. But you’ve really got to be a carnivore for this dish, and not just a half-hearted vegetarian like myself.
But the pancakes!
Before John had a bite, I had already had two. The hotcakes were near perfect, round, evenly cooked, tender, and generously hanging over the rim of the plate. (No small praise for a former restaurant reviewer and child pancake prodigy.) Proust had his madeleine that brought back memories. For me, it's pancakes.
Rose Marie Burke, an editor and journalist, writes a blog about her personal insights into life in Paris. After 20 years in the City of Light, she still calls her native Pittsburgh "home." Want to follow this blog? Enter your email address into the “Follow me” box. Or find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.