3/3/09

The Looming Flan Crisis: A Plan to Save this Noble Dessert

I want to talk to you today about a very serious problem.  No.  It is not the tanking economy.  No.  It is not octo-mom.  It is flan.  

How much do your really know about flan?  Do you know that flan has a long and glorious history?  Do you know that the history of Western Civilization is, in fact, the history of flan?  It's true.  Flan dates back to the Roman Empire, where it had more of a savory feel.  Often, it was flavored with eels.  I know what you're thinking: eel flan?  How did that ever die out?  Well, as in so many things, you can thank the Spanish.  That's right, the people who first added sugar to chocolate also realized that a little tinkering with the recipe could change a watery eel pudding into a deliciously creamy and sweet custard.  And, in exchange for the South American cacao beans that would change European history forever, Latin Americans got flan, which would change their history forever.  Thus it is that, now, flan is usually considered a Latin American confection.  

So far, so good.  So what's the problem?  First of all, there is the issue of bad flan itself.  In these difficult, trying times, when one in ten Americans is out of work and more and more people would like to drown their sorrows in sugar and fat, bad flan makes all flan look bad.   Bad flan is watery and spongy, and it tastes a little like a sponge, too.  Good flan is thick and rich and it makes you think of rainbows and happy trees.  But good flan is hard to make, and thus most people never experience it.  Nonetheless, in a world where people willingly eat pies out of boxes, flan could easily survive mediocrity.  

What flan may not survive, is its name.  The word flan itself is the biggest problem facing the future of this delicate and sophisticated dessert.  Who wants to eat something that sounds so strikingly like phlegm?  Flan.  Phlegm.  Flan.  Phlegm.  Flan.  Phlegm.  It just doesn't play in Peoria.  My sources tell me that in England, where everything sounds better, flan rhymes with plan.  Flan.  Plan.  Flan.  Plan.  Flan.  Plan.  It's really not much better, is it?  It sounds like a box on your income tax forms.  (Check box flan A if your house is now worth less than you paid for it.)  

I say flan needs a whole rebranding, remarketing, repositioning strategy.  And, of course, it needs a new name.  How about: creme flanee?  butterflan pudding?  Flantini?   Or my favorite, Obamaflan?

In addition to rebranding flan, I also advocate a guerrilla marketing campaign in which we entirely revamp the word flan itself by getting "cool" people to insert flan into words with more positive associations.  For example, how great would it be if Altadena Hiker blogged about her "flantastic" banana tree.  And what if Susan Carrier and Restless Chef posted a "flanalicious" recipe?  How great would that be?  Or, I should say, how flandango would that be?  Change the connotations of words and you change history itself.  Trust me people.  I have a Phd in history.  I know what I'm talking about.  

It is within our hands to make a difference in this world. We can save flantabulous Obamaflan. 

Yes we can.   


34 comments:

Kate said...

Maybe the GOP can rebrand it as "urban suburban hip-hop" flan.

Mister Earl said...

You know what this means, don'tcha Margaret? You need to change your name to Flannigan.

Lynne said...

I vote for obamaflan! This is just hysterical, I love it. I will try to work flan or flantastic into my vocab each day. But I think we need to get a Students for Obamaflan group started.

Desiree said...

I'm really torn. How can I ignore a post that so cunningly product places me? Why don't we just make creme brulee and call it flan? A tip of the hat to you, flaneur--

Petrea said...

I always get flan mixed up with FALN. More PR trouble.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Flan, a very serious problem indeed. And, that's not even including my problems with it.

Good Flan = Good Oxymoron = Something Tinkered With = Not Flan

I think I'd rather go back to my dog food.

Kathy H said...

Flan is alive and well and living in Santa Barbara. I'm allergic to just about every dessert except for flan, and I had no problem finding it at many fine SB eating establishments last summer.

Vive le flan!!

Shelly said...

Margaret, you never fail to make me smile and laugh. God Bless You and your flantastic observations. In these times, we need to focus on the soft and sweet things in life. In Flan We Trust.

altadenahiker said...

Yes we flan! (Sorry, I got excited and started shouting. Very funny posts do that to me.)

Margaret said...

Already I'm feeling hopeful. With such smart flanners on the job, how can flan lose. And why didn't I think of of Yes we flan?

Petrea said...

Only because you have witty flâneurs as Earl, Altadenahiker and Desiree, and you must needs set them up.

Petrea said...

*such as*

Notice I didn't include myself.

Susan C said...

So, where can I get a decent flan without driving to Santa Barbara?

Oh, and the other problem with the name is that I always want to say "flin flan."

Cafe Pasadena said...

SC: Mission Impossible

Margaret said...

Oh Petrea: Who is more of flaneur than you with your Flantabulous Pasadena Daily Photo.

Petrea said...

Yes, I flan.

Palm Axis said...

I guess I put on my flan-els a little to early to catch a good seat at the parade. Should try to flan better in the furture. Flan it!

altadenahiker said...

Just don't start another contest. I checked our stable; our mama flan hasn't any baby flanlets in the oven.

Margaret said...

The contest was fun, but I nominate you for the next instigator. I just want to play, not flan.

Mister Earl said...

How 'bout a song, ala Monty Python...Flan, flan, flan, flan, flan, flan, flan flan...

Margaret said...

Music is always flantastic.

Petrea said...

You know Margaret, this is such a flantastic idea that I think you should flanchise it. You have more than one talented food artist here. Susan might want a flanchise. Desiree might want one, too. I'm not much of a cook but I could blog about it. Flan the flames, you know.

Margaret said...

Nicely played, Petrea. I say a flanchise for everyone, and why blog when you can flog?

Cafe Pasadena said...

I'm not a fan of the flan.
But, I do hope you all start up anuther contest over this! Hohoho

R said...

We could all go to Belgium and hang out with the Flannish.

Lynne said...

If you're planning flan travels, might I suggest a trip to Flantasy Island.

Mister Earl said...

San Flancisco, open your Golden Gate!

Susan C said...

This post is getting more comments than the one about Sir Flancis Bacon.

Margaret said...

Mr. Earl: I'm going to San Flancisco in May! I'm walking my Girl Scout Troop across the The Golden Gate Bridge.

Susan: I know. Clearly, what the people want is Obamaflan.

altadenahiker said...

Come on, let's push it over the big three-oh. But we'll need every flan, woman, and child. (Jeez, I'm tapped.) I ride an ole paint, I lead an ole flan...

Petrea said...

It's going to take the whole Flanagain family. Even Mr. Flanagain. But he's out of town. I hope he hasn't gone to Flance? Flanders? Don't tell me he's a Flim Flan man.

Margaret said...

Mr. Flannigan is in Savannah and soon he'll in Washington D.C. He's not a flim flan man, and he's nothing like Ned Flanders, but he's flanatic about good flan.

J&D said...



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Star said...

Flan is one of my favorite desserts. It's not too sweet, and, when done properly, is soooo silky. In Milan (Italy), we call it by its French name, which is so much snobbish fun (Crème brûlée) thanks to the little layer of crackly caramelized sugar that ends up on the top, when the dessert is turned upside down onto the plate.