Flan: The Perfect Dish


Lucia Zettler

Lucia Zettler, Staff Reporter

Sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla; only four ingredients somehow create a perfect dish. Cold and creamy, flan is my favorite dessert. I can still recall the first time I had it. I was upset that we didn’t have any pie for Thanksgiving, and had some mystery dessert instead, but when I tried it, I fell in love. 

I immediately cherished the taste of the cool dessert on my tongue, sweet and deliciously simple. My grandma Lela’s food had always been good, but flan was special. The next Thanksgiving, I looked forward to the dessert in Puerto Rico. It’s not something that’s easy to find in Colorado, so when I had it in Puerto Rico, it felt like a rare delicacy.

Last year my grandma Lela finally taught me how to make it. She barked orders as I scurried around the small kitchen grabbing the ingredients. She taught me how to carefully turn the caramel in the flan mold, and how to not get burnt, and I listened eagerly. Then, she showed me how to flip the dessert in a way where you could prevent it from breaking and make sure that the syrup flowed over the flan. 

When I had the flan I had made with Lela it was particularly rewarding knowing the process that went into the food. I remember sneaking into the kitchen after Thanksgiving and scarfing down the leftovers. 

This Thanksgiving we didn’t get to go to Puerto Rico due to COVID, and I begged my grandma for the recipe. After many texts and voice messages pleading for the recipe, she finally gave in and sent a video explaining how to make it. With my mom’s help, I made it for Thanksgiving.

I am a terrible cook so, like Lela, my mom had to walk me through the recipe, helping me use the right ingredients, and making sure I didn’t eat the flan before it was ready. Before it was done, she let me take the leftover caramels and eat them as if they were just misshaped lollipops. 

Biting into the flan, it reminded me of many Thanksgivings in Puerto Rico sitting around the table with family. Despite everything that was going on, the flan stayed constant, cold and refreshing with its’ perfectly subtle sweetness, a small reminder that how, in spite of all the new things going on, some will never change.