It was after this assembly program in Newport, New Hampshire that I needed to make flan. I had never made flan while I was writing LUIS PAINTS THE WORLD. In the story Luis’s mom makes flan the night before his older brother is deployed with his army unit. The story is set in a Dominican-American neighborhood where flan is a treat, but these kids in Newport never had it. Luis is sad as the story opens and runs from Nico, his brother, when Nico says he’s leaving. One student asked me, Why did he run away? Another student told him, He didn’t want to say good–bye.
That night I thought about the day. I love it when students follow closely and add their interpretations. I decided to make flan so I could tell students how long the mom had to stir. I stood at my own stove and stirred the sugar like the mom in Oliver Dominguez’s illustration in our book. Sure enough, it turns to syrup. In the syrup you bake the sweet milk custard.
Later I got a note from one of the librarians who organized the school and public library event. She wrote: “We were a little worried the anti-refugee/immigrant sentiment in parts of the town might surface in kids’ questions, but instead Luis and Nico showed the children that immigrants and immigrants’ children are just like them: they have favorite foods, and miss their brothers, and need to run away sometimes, and need to show everyone that the world is at home, too. Thanks so much for that.”
Hoo- ray Luis and Nico could do that!
Now for the flan they love. It’s pretty good. Here’s one recipe. But if you have a family recipe for flan I sure would like to hear it.