It is a passion I indulged in rarely in asia, where tea is more the norm and the western passion for sweets is muted by rice flours; for the crumbly and flaky texture of our pastries is from the wheat grains. So when I found a pastry shop the 'rolling roughstuff review' came to a screeching halt. As I left Tai'an the morning after my sweaty climb up Tai'shan what should appear but a cyclists fantasy: racks and racks of fresh, powdered sugar and frosted pastries!! And to boot I had not yet had breakfast, and the coffee here was fresh and the buns warm. Croissants, plain and chocolate, light and crisp. The Chinese woman who ran the place must not have seen many American tourists--american cyclists even less. My apetite impressed them: the fact that I had trimmed down 30 pounds on my tour (from a 36" waist to a 32") might have impressed them even more.
Through the glass barrier one can see the road. The center four lanes are for vehicles; the outer four lanes, separated often by a barrier or even an island, are for bicycles, pedal rickshaws, local traffic, animals, and the traveling circus of pedestrians you find everywhere in Asia. The two woman icing their cakes, with their head and mouths capped, reminded me of the hospital nursery! If I could carry a whole cake in my panniers without crushing it I might have walked off with one.