Women that grew up in countries outside of the United States, immigrated to America as young adults, raised families and have grandkids, capture my imagination. They’ve escaped war, poverty and oppression, many bringing only the shirts on their back and the recipes from their homelands. And their stories? Makes my life look like a pony ride at a country fair.
Having lived my adult life in a multi-cultural college town, I’ve befriended many of these women who’ve immigrated to the United States. And they’ve expanded my culinary horizons. Immeasurably.
I’ve posted hundreds of blogs borrowed from their memories through the years. Most recent posts–Babcia’s Stuffed Cabbage Leaves, and Abeula’s Pumpkin Flan below…these recipes are from my (semi) fictionalized Polish and Cuban grandmothers who express their love for their family with food.
I just received a comment on a recent cookie post. Julie was channelling her Belfast gran’s sage advise for making cookies, and sharing it with us. Thank you, Julie. Thank you, Gran! R.I.P.
To all of you–I’d love to hear your grandmother’s culinary words of wisdom. It’s some granny thing I’ve got going these days–makes me feel cuddled, safe and loved!
Last week I posted that prior mentioned recipe for stuffed cabbage leaves. Abuela’s Pumpkin Flan, as well, needs advance thought and planning. Unless, of course, you are an Abuela, which is the Cuban endearment for grandmother. (Or Aubuelita, or Lita. Depending.) An Abuela can whip up a flan as fast as she can denounce Fidel’s dictatorship. Abuelo’s are greased lightening. Poetry in motion.
If you want to laugh out loud, seriously laugh out loud for four solid minutes, take a look at this YouTube. It compares a grandma raised in the American South to an Abuela raised in Cuba. Maybe it’s because I had Alabama grannies, whatever, but this was sidesplittingly funny to me.
I asked my friend, Guillermo, whose mother was born and raised in Cuba, if this Abuela is a stereotype. I’ve met his mother, a lovely women, and she didn’t seem to fit the category. He said, indeed, his mother was not so easily pigeon-holed. But this YouTube’s rendering of a typical Abeula, from his experience with his Cuban family and friends was accurate, he said. And very amusing.
Back to flan. Not only have I been in Grandmother nostalgia land of late, I’ve also been craving pudding-ish desserts. Perhaps it’s the comforting texture. I adore Creme Brulée and Panna Cotta, yet, until now, haven’t made a custardy flan. Flan is enjoyed in various guises all over the world, most certainly Cuba.
Besides the ubiquitous Cuban Black Beans and Rice, flan commands center stage at the end of every meal, at every home and restaurant on the island. It can be dolled up with guava cheese, coconut, rum, pumpkin, or expresso. I”m thinking cranberry for next month? Nah. Just seems wrong.
As I do with all recipes that tread foreign soil, I scrutinized many, many recipes for flans prior to making this. I made the first draft (the recipe below) and, honestly, can stop. Done. It doesn’t need another walk around the park. It is simply delicious. Especially with the optional garnish. Promise.
It’s a combination of half a dozen recipes from Cuban home kitchens that I found on-line. It will be the perfect finish to my Thanksgiving table, or rather two Thanksgiving tables (it’s complicated)–a creamy, lighter departure from the more traditional pumpkin pie.
So, friends, Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for you, dear readers, who enjoy this blog. I am thankful for the myriad folks from around the world who have found safe haven in the United States, and whose recipes have made their way into my kitchen. I am, especially, thankful for grandmothers.
You’ll find my favorite holiday recipes by clicking the gold holiday ball in the right hand column.