I’ve always dreamed of going to Paris for many reasons: the light, the accordions, the pastries and architecture. I love many things about French cuisine and I’ve boasted that I’ll never be an American who eats McDonald’s in Paris. I have wondered about missing bagels, pancakes and truly good hamburgers. After reading Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France (by Craig Carlson; published by Sourcebooks), a delicious memoir about business and breakfast, I know where to find a great American meal in Paris and a fun foodie read too.
Craig Carlson, the creator and owner of Breakfast in America, accomplished a very unlikely culinary task in bringing great diner food to Paris. Pancakes in Paris begins with Carlson’s early life story from his difficult childhood, his first trip to France and his Hollywood years. Carlson’s writing reads like he’s the ultimate nice guy, when the business difficulties began happening, and boy did they happen, I found myself almost in tears at times for “my new friend” Craig. Throughout the book he manages to keep up an authentic, engaging and hopeful tone in spite of the mounting stress.
Why does Craig spend a lot of the book in stressful situations? Because apparently opening and operating a business in France is a crazy tangle of red tape, double-talk, absurd laws, fines and a government that seems to want to intimidate instead of support local business owners. I’m appalled at the amount of bureaucracy and bullying that people have to put up with in France. While Pancakes in Paris is full of fun foodie war stories, I still feeling genuinely aghast at required French business practices.
I salute Craig Carlson for not only writing a charming new take on the American ex-pat in Europe memoir (one of my favorite sub-genres), but also for thriving in such a difficult climate. And with his sense of humor intact to boot! Pancakes in Paris has convinced me to add a meal at Breakfast in America to my Parisian bucket list. For now, I’ll just have to settle for using the recipe in the book to make my own version of CC’s Big Mess.
Kari Liked: Craig’s writing style is very familiar and likeable.
Kari Didn’t Like: I will now never, never, never open a business in France. After hearing all the horror stories, I may never even open one in this country either.
(This post contains affiliate links. I received a proof copy of Pancakes in Paris from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.)