Everyone has that one dish. You know the one; the one dish that is served at every family event. The one dish that never gets any complaints and always pleases a crowd. The one dish that sticks out because of a ‘secret’ mixture of ingredients that go into making it.
For me, that one dish is my grandmother’s flan. My grandmother, or as I like to call her, abuela, has been making flan for as long as I can remember, and for good reason; every single person who has ever tried it has only good things to say. Any time she brings out that sweet delicacy on a clean platter, mouths start to water and utensils immediately go up. I don’t know exactly what recipe she uses (I guess it wouldn’t be much of a ‘secret’ if I did), but whatever it is, it sure does generate a lot of compliments. At this point, it is just customary for me to prepare myself for an onslaught of comments the second that flan lands on the table. Remarks range from the casual “Wow this is great, your grandma knows what she’s doing” to the more excited “Oh my GOD, who made this??? This is the best thing I have ever eaten!”
I never took issue with anyone’s commentary. If anything, I’m pleased that my grandmother is so capable of satisfying pretty much everyone at an event with her skills in the kitchen. However, there was always one thing that perplexed me in regards to my grandmother’s flan. When I said that ‘every single person who has ever tried it has only good things to say’, I lied a little bit. There was always one person, one outlier among the crowd, who I can recall never liking this ‘family treasure’, as my mom likes to put it: Me.
I accept that my grandmother’s flan is something special in the eyes (and mouths) of virtually everyone, but I can never bring myself to finish a piece. I find the taste weird and far too sweet, and the texture is just wet and not appealing to my tongue. As bad as I felt always being the one person who refused to take a slice, I just couldn’t force myself to do it. It definitely led to a lot of awkward interactions where family members and friends were all eating, no, praising this dessert, only for them to ask me why I didn’t grab a piece.
But as I got older, I think I started to appreciate this dish in a different way. I couldn’t change the way my taste buds worked, but I could change my mindset. As much as I don’t like my grandmother’s flan, I gain a sense of comfort and happiness in hearing that she’s making some, because it always means something special is coming and that I can expect a gathering of people I love to come together sometime soon. Regardless of how I feel about this supposedly ‘perfect’ dessert, I know that when it makes its way to the table, so does my family.