Letters from the Issue of November 29, 2001

I Bake, Therefore I Pan: Excuse me, but am I the only one who thinks Miami is clueless about dough?

Three years ago I had the culinary misfortune of spending two months in Venezuela and can regrettably say my gagging reflexes were never so violently tested. I spent many intimate meals getting to know a pineapple, the only Venezuelan victual that did not taste like I was licking the pavement at an Amoco station. I will be as diplomatic as my current rage allows by stating that Venezuelan cuisine (and I use the term charitably) should be perfected in Venezuela before being attempted abroad.

Being a pastry chef, I may hold some unrealistic expectations. I have savored the flaky beauty of all-butter puff pastry, and I know the glory of a fresh napoleon made with vanilla bean pastry cream. When a food critic cannot differentiate between quality and swill as it applies to bakeries, I feel obliged to speak out. And what if he does know the difference but is just one of Don Pan's henchmen intent on promoting blasphemous baked goods? I know it sounds harsh, but how else to explain why an epicure like Mr. Klein would so misguidedly praise Don Pan? How sad that he does not frequent a bakery where the cream is fresh, the fruit real, and the frostings are not borne of powder.

I will end with a heartfelt prayer for all the noble bakers out there who are up all night, kneading lovingly. May their plight not be in vain. May they continue to do what Don Pan can't do.

Elisa Valderrama

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