This classic flan recipe from Jose Andres calls for eggs, sugar, half-and-half, cream, vanilla, and…cat food cans–according to blogger Michael Procopio. No expensive ramekins necessary.
Every so often I find myself sitting cross-legged in the center of a dimly lit, unfurnished hotel room. I’m unable to stand, because my pajama bottoms are stuck to the dingy beige carpet beneath me. What’s worse, I don’t even attempt to wriggle out of my pajamas, for fear that I’ll knock over the neatly stacked wall of empty cat-food tins surrounding me. So there I sit, ass glued to the floor, scanning the room for cats, until I finally realize that there aren’t any. There never are.
That’s when I do what I always do when I find myself in this situation: I wake up.
Sometimes I’m wearing pajamas; sometimes it’s sweatpants. Though my wardrobe varies, two things remain painfully the same: the tidy bulwark of empty cat-food tins and the conspicuous absence of cats.
I don’t need to pay anyone $90 an hour to tell me what this dream means. (Although I really must get around to telling my shrink about it. He’d have entirely too much fun deconstructing it.) I’m 43 years old, romantically unattached, lacking in savings of any sort, and mildly allergic to cats. You do the math.
Better yet, I’ll do it for you. I’m having my midlife crisis.
I’m at that age—actually, a couple years past it—when the average American evaluates how he’s spent the first half of his life. Time to ask the hard questions. Like, did I really need to spend that month in Morocco instead of investing the money in a 401(k)? Was culinary school a wiser choice than business school? Should I have held onto my independence rather than settling into a convenient and financially cushy partnership with someone I didn’t truly love? Was it really a good idea to go to that art auction after drinking three martinis, just because I was trying to impress a manic-depressive ex-con?
(My responses to the above are yes, yes, yes, and no—but that serigraph looks really great above my bed.)
I get what my recurring dream is about. I’m afraid of ending my days poor, alone, and having to eat cat food. Some part of my unconscious seems to be telling me that if I don’t change my ways, my nightmare will one day become my reality.
Thing is, I’m rather pleased with the way my life has played out thus far. I’ve very few regrets. I’ve loved deeply, collected an embarrassing wealth of friends, and eaten my fair share of beautiful food. I’ve seen London; I’ve seen France; I’ve even seen John Wayne without his underpants. I’d say I’ve had a rather swell life. I wouldn’t change a thing. Really. Except for the part where I don’t have any money.
And so, no, I don’t regard this little nocturnal premonition as an accurate preview of the last act of my life. Instead, I accept it as a simple—if persistent—warning. A memento vivere. A personal reminder to live. I don’t have to end my days broke, alone, and smelling strongly of 9 Lives®. My dream is telling me that I should unstick my butt from the floor. That I ought to get out more. That I might find love or, at the very least, companionship if I simply tear down my self-made walls and let others in. And that even though I’d never in a million years actually stoop to eating Friskies® Senior Diet Classic Paté Pacific Salmon Dinner, I may consider serving food fit for human consumption out of the empty cat-food tins. Just for fun.
What better way to curtail my nightmares than to eat my fears, rather than letting them eat me? I can’t imagine a more excellent form of therapy. And it doesn’t cost anywhere near $90 an hour.
Think about it. Empty pet-food tins render expensive ramekins unnecessary. And who needs labor-intensive haute cuisine when you can have something as simple and silken as flan, made all the more enticing by its affordable elegance. Because let’s face it, if you’re eating out of cat-food cans, you need all the richness and beauty you can muster.
Should any of my dinner guests ask me where in heaven’s name I got the idea to serve dessert in cat-food cans, I’ll pour them a little more wine, look at them with misty eyes, and tell them it came to me in a dream. Feel free to borrow the dream—and the recipe.
The marvelous thing about cat food is that its container can be reused in multiple ways: as an ashtray, as a place to keep your change, as a distinctive dessert dish. And for all its richness, flan happens to be a remarkably affordable dish to create, especially since a couple of the ingredients can be obtained for free from your local big-name coffee house. Just arrive armed with a discarded cup from the same venue, make your way to the sugar-and-creamer island, fill the cup with half-and-half, grab as many sugar packets as you can stash, and make your way to the exit. Quickly.–Michael Procopio
LC Class Note
Classic flan. Not-so-classic presentation. But bonus points for creativity. Yes, if you must, you can make it in ramekins instead.
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 1 H, 50 M
- Makes four 6-ounce flans
IngredientsEmail Grocery List
Recipe Testers Reviews
This is a wonderful creamy flan recipe with a nice caramel sauce. I’ll admit to having made this in custard cups rather than using the cans. It’d take too long for my cat to eat that much food.
With the mixture of cream and half-and-half, this recipe makes a rich, luxurious flan. Though it was fun to serve in a cat food can, when making it again, I’d probably stick with regular ramekins.