For many of us, Sansgíveen just isn’t complete without a steaming plate of arroz con gandules, for others it might be congri or gallo pinto, but there is one dish that unites us all on this sacred day for giving thanks and confusing American rituals: flan. Yes, flan. If you thought I was going to say turkey you are either not Latino or your tía Lourdes is seriously slacking on her yearly contributions to the banquet table.
Early chronicles of the conquest of the Americas actually describe Columbus and co. sitting down to share a flan with the native Tainos in a heartfelt gesture of thanks and friendship. Actually, that’s not true. It was mostly just burning and torturing. But still, flan is like a gooey, gelatinous ball of hope that would have made those long, colonial winters just that much more bearable for our earliest pilgrim settlers.
In fact, it is so universal to the Latino Sansgíveen experience that the The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal touched both on its importance to our cultures and its inevitable spread into mainstream American celebrations of the holiday.
“I’m actually half-Mexican – get used to it ’cause in about five to ten years, you’re all gonna be related to one. Whether you like it or not, no matter how much you prepared your family, you’re gonna show up at Thanksgiving one of these years, you’re gonna walk in and say, ‘Hey! What’s happening? Since when did we start serving flan?’ Well, what’s happening is that somebody’s boning a Latino.”
It’s an interesting spin on the heated dialogue about America’s demographic transformation. Sure, there will be more and more of us over the next few years, but that also means we will inevitably infiltrate more traditional, white American families with our sugary-sweet holiday customs. This will mostly be thanks to Sofía Vergara and American media’s obsession with “Latin heat,” but as far as stereotypes go, it could be worse, right?
So this Thanksgiving, celebrate your culture with your pavo al mole or your patacón pisao, but just remember that the flan will soon be about as American as apple pie.