Pan Dulce is a Mexican bakery located off of 27th and T street. The experience encountered at this local joint is one quite different. Going into the bakery I was overthrown with confusion in this unnatural environment. Below will be listed the top five things you need to know to prepare yourself for an ‘out of your comfort zone experience’. Providing you the details of how to encounter the situation, based on all of the steps I took in the wrong direction so that you can have a successful experience.
When you first walk in the bakery you are bombarded with cases full of pastries. Instead of the usual glass case under the register there are multiple cases lined up along the wall. As you come closer you will make a horrifying realization, there are no labels. No matter how long your eyes scan the shelves you will have to make a decision purely on the appearance. If you are like me, extremely indecisive and and over analyze your decisions, this will be a challenging aspect. Before you go prepare yourself for whatever you will choose and accept the chaos. Whether you end up with the opposite of what you wanted or a new favorite dessert, remember the surprise is part of the experience.
Immediately upon your arrival your ears will be filled with a familiar sound, a Christian radio station. You might assume this is a delightful twist, something familiar in a foreign place. Don’t be deceived, the upbeat rhythms make you feel at home so when you are brought back into reality, which is that you are in an unusual environment it intensifies your discomfort. My suggestion to you is to block out the music, accept that you do not belong and go about your experience.
Don’t take your time
You will have the urge to spend a lengthy amount of time picking out the perfect pastry. Examining every inch of every single one, trying to decipher the flavor or whether it is filled with jelly or hollow. Since there are no labels it is a waste of your time. I spent over 20 minutes walking back and forth between the cases in hopes of making the perfect decision. I had the urge to choose a chocolate cupcake with white frosting, something I could find at any grocery store. There’s no point in getting a common cupcake when there are shelves full of new options. Overcome your fear of uncertainties and pick a pastry that looks appetizing but also that you’ve never encountered without over analyzing.
Go with a Friend
A major impact on your experience is your company. If it is your first time going I would highly recommend dragging a friend along with you. It’s much easier to embrace the experience if you don’t have the anxiety of doing it alone. Whatever you are feeling, your friend is right alongside you. New environments can be overwhelming, having a friend to share in your discomfort makes your outing more enjoyable. Another perk of having a companion with you, is trying multiple new pastries and at a lower price.
Stay and soak in the awkwardness
You may have the urge as I did to get your food and leave. However, I highly recommend you don’t give into these emotions. Sit at the little table provided for you and embrace the awkwardness. Half of the experience is the environment not only the food. This way you have more chance to observe and soak in your surroundings. The longer you stay, the more you will learn and your comfort level will increase.
Towards the end of my visit to this bakery, that I was slowly starting to enjoy, the perfect conclusion to my time occurred. A group of children, who I assumed where regulars, flooded in. Greeting the owner in a language that was foreign to my ears, they embraced every aspect of Pan Dulce as if it was their home. In a matter of seconds they had their trays loaded with various pastries, calling to each other back and forth, and laughing at the youngest who clearly selected way more than she could possibly handle. They were the exact opposite of us, coming in stiffly and unsure taking our time and trying not to feel out of place. The way they interacted with this place was foreign yet fascinating, I longed for the experience they had. I learned quickly that this was the way I was supposed to be acting. Thankfully, they provided me with the perfect example of how to better function in this setting. So as you soak in this story and the information provided, you should now be able to (somewhat) have a comfortable new experience at an unfamiliar place.