Imagine yourself in Paris. You take the double-decker lift to the dizzying top of the Eiffel Tower and gaze at the sprawling city below. In a dreamlike state, you stroll along the banks of the River Seine. After taking the metro to Montmartre and laboring to climb the steep steps to reach the beautiful white Sacre'-Coeur church, you stop at a cafe' to enjoy a quiche with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Then on to a bit of shopping. (You have to buy some French perfume, after all). Perhaps a rest before going to dinner. If adventurous, you might order the moules marinieres, which are mussels steamed in a garlicky wine stock. If not, the roast chicken with les frites (fries) sounds pretty tasty. For dessert, the tarte tatin, or apple tart, is a must.
In the morning, you dress quickly and hurry down to the hotel dining room for the buffet breakfast that is included with the price of the room. Specifically, you are looking forward to lots of coffee to help shake off some of the jet lag. At the buffet, you grab a plate and choose from a delicious array of baked goods; including croissants, brioches, and some little pastries filled with - could that be chocolate? It is! Moving on to the covered metal serving platters, you lift the lid to find a partially liquid mass of yellow lumps. Is that...scrambled eggs? You put a bit on your plate and instantly regret it. Looking around, you spy a jar filled with some sort of cereal, cartons of yoghurt, and a pitcher each of orange juice and milk. But where the heck is the coffee?
After much effort, you flag a waiter and ask for some coffee. He brings you a cup that is only half full. You quickly suck down the coffee and wait for a refill. None comes. Soon you learn the horrible truth. In most of Europe, there are no endless cups of coffee. The scrambled eggs are runny. Pancakes, waffles and French toast (oh, the irony) are rarely served in non-English speaking countries.
What you would give for the sight of an I-HOP. (International House Of Pancakes - which doesn't seem to be so international after all). Following several days of coffee withdrawal, you hear a rumor of a place, a restaurant that is called, of all things, "Breakfast In America".
It takes you three metro changes, but you finally get there. Stuck in among the old buildings with wrought iron balconies you see a red building with a sign that says, "DINER". You hurry inside and find a table. As you scan the menu, you read, "pancakes", "bacon", "bagels", and yes, "French toast". A waitress holding a large pot with a spout comes towards you. "Would you like coffee?" she asks. Wordlessly, you slide your cup in her direction.