Jose Padilla, 60, learned to make flan from his mother in the Philippines. Martha Gutierriz, 49, ate flan when she was a child in Colombia. Carmen Sustache, 75, learned the recipe in school in Puerto Rico, and Diana Marquez adapted her Mexican grandmother's version.
At Ybor City's Fiesta Day on Saturday, they were among the dozens of flan lovers from across the globe who offered their own spin on the classic egg-and-condensed-milk confection. Hungry people waited in the hot sun for tiny cups of creamy flan.
There was traditional vanilla flan, coconut flan, guava flan, even corn flan and mocha flan. Some flans were laid out in quivering, naked rectangles. Others were embellished with fruits and orchids.
The recipe is simple, Padilla explained, but the technique is tedious. It's important to make sure the egg and milk mixture doesn't bubble: The temperature has to be just right.
But the result is heavenly. "It soothes your taste buds," Padilla said. "It gives you high energy. And if it's done right, it slides down your throat."