The history of flans dates back all the way to the Ancient Romans. During Roman times, domesticated chickens were kept for laying eggs for the first time. The Romans, with eggs in surplus, developed new recipes, one of which turned out to be a custard concoction known as flan. The Romans invented many dishes that we might find fascinating, such as eel flan. They also had a very nice sweet flan that was flavored with honey.


Both sweet and savory flans, such as almonds, cheese, curd, spinach, fish, were very popular in Europe during the Middle Age. The recipe for flan survived the demise of the Roman Empire and spread to countries such as Spain, England and France, and the recipe adapted to the different cultures.


In Spain it became a sweet custard generally made with caramelized sugar. The Moors introduced citrus and almonds, which are commonly found to flavor flan. England, with its love for pastry crusts, developed a different kind of flan. This one makes use of a pastry shell with an open top filled with custard and often mixed with nuts or fruit.


Eventually, flans made their way to the New World and took on the taste and flavor that we know today.

Sources
  • http://flan.holidaycook.com/history.shtml
  • http://www.foodtimeline.org