I was hanging out with friends, when we went outside and found two giant boxes with hand-drawn tags on them that said on one side, “EAST BAY PAN DULCE” and on the other side, “No lard — better for the piggies!” We opened the boxes and inside were a huge variety of individually wrapped pan dulce. There were all the traditional shapes and several that my brain invented*: brightly colored mashups of donuts, pies, jellies, and puddings. Attached to the boxes were durable plastic bags full of change, and a cheerily written information sheet that explained what each pastry was and how this whole system worked: “EAST BAY PAN DULCE brings you freshly baked pastries, delivered to neighborhoods throughout the East Bay, on an honor system! Throw in 75 cents and take up to three pan dulces. This will leave enough for other people too!”
I went through the boxes and took my delicious time selecting my three treats. By this point the dream had changed so that I didn’t merely have the contents of two boxes to choose from, but whole shelves with enormous trays and stacks of pastries laid on top of each other. AND, although they all looked amazing, in the end there were only three that I really wanted, so picking only that number wasn’t a wrench at all. Man, this was sweet, pun intended. After I’d made my selection, I tried the pan dulce and found that they were fabulously tender or flaky (where appropriate). I went online and found that EAST BAY PAN DULCE was the work of one obsessive girl who baked all this by herself and delivered the boxes by bike around the area.
Man oh man, I wish this dream were real, and no, I’m not going to make it real by starting EAST BAY PAN DULCE myself. I’m sure it was inspired by the pie truck and a Mexican bakery I once walked into in LA whose walls were lined with so many self-serve bins of pan dulce that my brain kind of exploded. Am I hungry or something? I did have dessert last night (and it was good, but apparently it wasn’t enough! PAN DULCE!!!
Oh, and I almost forgot. Right before I woke up I dreamed I was telling a famous Oakland food writer (I don’t even know if such a fellow exists, but I can tell you what he looked like: tall, thin, curly black hair, humorously intelligent face, wearing a black shirt and a grey blazer) about this program:
me: So you just drop your coins into the bag and you get these wonderful pan dulce!
FOFW: No kidding! You know what would be brilliant?
FOFW: HEALTH CARE SHOULD RUN ON THIS SYSTEM!
FOFW: Pastry is what, $4 a day? You just pay money on a daily basis and then you’re covered for the day!
me: Actually it was only 75¢.
Yeah I think that’s why I woke up. The combination of cheap pastry and DIY healthcare was just too much.
*I suppose, to make up for what I perceive as the deficiencies of pan dulce compared to, say, Chinese buns and pastries, or French or American ones.