“Como hacer flan” may not be the first thing that American teenagers learn in a high school cooking class, but learning how to make a flan in a Spanish home is a guarantee of a tasty dessert. the preparation of this delicious treat begins with melting sugar until liquefied and golden in color in a medium sized pan. Eventually the cook carefully pours the resulting hot syrup into a 9 inch round glass baking dish. The detailed and somewhat tricky process continues, but the results are a just a small part of the largest segment of the ethnic foods market in the U.S.– Mexican. In fact, 62% of the FDMx (food, drug, mass index) consists of this ethnic group.
Hispanic foods and beverages created an $8 billion market in 2012, according to a consumer research firm called Packaged Facts. By 2017, that number is expected to reach $11 billion. The popularity of hispanic inspired food items, however, is not limited to one ethnic group. The Tortilla Industry Association estimates that Americans purchased and ate an estimated 85 billion tortillas in 2000.
While people from all cultures love to cook, some research indicates that compared with non-Hispanics, Hispanics are more likely to shop for the freshest ingredients for their recipes. In fact, 50% of Hispanic, compared to 44% non-Hispanic, consumers tend to be very particular about the ingredients they include in their recipes. Whether they are trying to teach a younger cook “como hacer flan,” or explain the recipe for tres leeches, Hispanic cooks are often more willing than most to spend time and energy looking for quality ingredients.
Take for example the popular rice sauce mole. There are many, many types of mole, but every type contains as many as 20 ingredients, including sometimes several varieties of chilli peppers. All mole requires constant stirring over a long period of time, much like “como hacer flan.”
If you are offered the opportunity to spend time cooking and creating food with a chef from any culture, it will likely be well worth your time. A practiced Italian cook might teach you the secret to making and drying your own fresh pasta as well as creating a rich, but mild, marinara sauce with meatballs. Your friends grandmother from Santorini, Greece, might even be willing to teach you the tedious and time consuming task of layering thin phyllo dough to make baklava. You might, however, get some of the most yummy dinner ideas and cooking techniques from someone offering to to teach you the family secret spicy tamale recipe or “como hacer flan.”