It’s been a weird week. On top of hightailing it back to Paris after the break-in, I came home to a very sick dude who required lots of love and tea and homemade chicken noodle soup (coming eventually). My comfort comes from elsewhere.
I have a love affair with diners. On early afternoons on Saturdays or Sundays back in LA, after rolling out of bed, I would take a thick book to Rae’s or Bobby’s or whatever other first-name-apostrophe-s greasy spoon was closest and served never-ending coffee. I would order bacon soft, eggs over easy, hash well-done, and wheat toast with butter and jam. I would sit there at the counter and eat and read and drink coffee until I was gently vibrating in my seat. After a while, the waitresses stopped asking me if I wanted more coffee and just poured more whenever they happened by. Then they stopped asking me what I wanted to order and just brought me the usual. Once, I leant a copy of Infinite Jest to a Bobby’s waitress. Another time, a server at Rae’s let me borrow her copy of Maus. I liked being alone around people. This is how I would reset before the onrushing work week, and now I guess this is how I reset when life gets fuzzy around the edges.
Breakfast in America is as close to those diners as I’m going to find in this city. Heinz ketchup and French’s yellow on the table, bacon and eggs and pancakes and burgers on the menu (though with the shocking omission of biscuits and gravy). Purportedly bottomless cafe americain.
But it’s the little things, you know? The servers aren’t the local flunkies and middle-aged women who’ve been working there since they were local flunkies. They’re usually cute, college-age expats, fluent in French and English. They have to ask if you take milk with your coffee (of course you do). It’s almost entirely patronized by hip twenty-to-thirty-somethings. Sometimes, they give you prune jelly with your toast (shocking).
But you know what? The eggs are runny. The potatoes are crispy. The toast is actual sliced toast, not bits of baguette, and they have kitschy toasters on the high tables so you can make it as singed as you like. They serve Coca-Cola in glass bottles and will mix you a strawberry-chocolate milkshake if you ask nicely. It’s another little reminder of home and comfort when you need it.
Breakfast In America
4 rue Malher, 75004 (Saint-Paul)
01 42 72 40 21