Of Eggs and Brains

Of Eggs and Brains

Egg whites burst with protein, and yolks carry fats and cholesterol. All my life, I’ve loved eating eggs, but recently I’ve taken to tossing the yolks, reluctantly, on the advice of my doctor. I started to think about all the foods that use eggs in their preparation, and how certain dishes wouldn’t even exist without eggs-  soufflés and quiches, for example. Baked goods use eggs, meatballs need eggs to bind them together, and children adore soft boiled eggs, with their bright and creamy yolk against the firm whites.

While preparing an egg-white omelette for myself, a memory popped up, a memory of eggs and a certain taxi driver in Saudi Arabia.

We single women living in compounds loved to go out for dinner. It was a popular way to get out of the compound. Riyadh was known for its five-star hotels with elegant restaurants catering to the expatriate population. Nearly every weekend, I’d be out with a group of women, at one of these hotels, eating scrumptious food from all parts of the world, exchanging stories of our encounters with Saudi culture.

That night, after one of these dinners, my friend Lois and I took a taxi- yes, from the street! – back to our compound. The driver was particularly chatty, wanting to practice his English and ask questions about our experience as Westerners in Riyadh. The conversation naturally focused on food, and he asked whether we’d ever tried “kgidjlewrisldhfklsd;fskjdfk;sljdf.”

What? We didn’t even know what language he was speaking, much less what he was talking about. No, we’d never tried it. Oh, it is sooooo delicious!

“You eat some now?” he asked, and we laughed. “No! We’re so full.”

“Please, eat now, we are near the restaurant.”

Lois and I looked at each other, full of high spirits and mischief from a lively gathering. “OK!” we said, and the car made a turn we weren’t expecting.

The taxi stopped in front of one of those small, busy restaurants that serve men only, and he went in. I’d always wanted to know what kind of food they cooked in there, so now I’d find out.

“We can always scream and run, if we have to,” I said, after our driver had walked into the restaurant.

Soon he came out carrying a paper plate covered with foil. He handed the plate to Lois through the back window, and she lifted the foil.

Steam from scrambled eggs filled our noses, eggs ready to eat with two pieces of flat bread! Relieved, and not wanting to offend our generous driver, we forced ourselves to taste the egg dish. Yes, he was right, it was delicious. Eggs had been scrambled and seasoned with some other ingredient, and only after we ate most of the serving did we ask, “What is mixed in with the eggs?”

“BRAINS!” said our driver, with a big, white smile.




About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
This entry was posted in Life, Memoir, Saudi Arabia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Of Eggs and Brains

  1. Hning says:

    Ooohh, brain food! Yummm!

  2. Shahrzad says:

    Haha, Sheep brain you mean, yeah? I love Sheep brain sandwich. It’s so delicious! 😀

    I never tried it with egg!! Seems alittle weird. But i can say what will be the taste..

    I love your stories of Arabia.. Dont you go back there for a visit?

  3. Marahm says:

    That was the first and last time I ate any kind of brains! It’s a cultural bias, of course, as I eat the meat of various animals. What’s the difference between the meat and the organs and the brains, except in nutritional value and ease of preparation? Definitely, it’s a cultural bias.

    Thank you for the compliment; you inspire me to write more posts. I’ve been so busy doing photography, I’ve neglected my blog.

    I’d love to go back to Saudi Arabia for a visit, and I know how to get a visa. I am held back by the cost of airfare, coupled with the almighty American work ethic, which mandates that two weeks is the longest vacation I get in any one year, until I’ve been on the job five years, then I night get three weeks, and not in a row!

    Retirement is five years away, inshaAllah…!

  4. Solace says:

    LOL, I have heard it is very tasty and my father loves to eat it, but I stay away… I think the appearance puts me off!

  5. coolred38 says:


    There is a food here that people just love called bacha…its made of kobuz (like thickly made torteas) soaked in liquid from boiled meat and spice…the meat used is parts of the cow I consider candidates for regurgitation….brains…tongues…that soft stuff inside hoofs…gag me with a spoon. It smells horrendous too…the worse thing about it….my kids love it…I cant bear even to kiss them once they have eaten that unless they have brushed their teeth first.

    Man…I can feel that little tickle in the back of the throat that lets you know something maybe coming up later just at the mere thought of it…eeeewwwww!!!!

  6. Hala says:

    ha ha, I find Brain and all inner organs repulsive as well, but I was tolf they’re delicious…I never eat anything beyong blank meat, and eggs of course, I just love eggs… By the way, Is Louis is the same Louis from UK who used to work in recruiting and in finance or accounting now at NGHA? I just wonder?…

  7. LOOOL!
    Love the punch line. I agree though, I think it’s more of a cultural bias than a dislike of the actual taste. I was once similarly tricked into eating stuffed intestines. I mean at least you had our thinktank mixed in with your eggs! I had our waste excavator stuffed with chickpeas and rice 😦
    Tasty? Yes. Will I ever do it again? Not of my own free will.


  8. Marahm says:

    coolred, the stuff from inside the hooves? That’s even more disgusting than intestines! Your poor kids, how did they get to actually like that?

    Hala, no, Lois is not the Louis you ask about. She is an American who spent many years in Riyadh.
    “Louis” is generally a man’s name.

    souvenirsandscars, welcome! and thank you for your comment. I agree, the excavator is more distusting than the thinktankand a trick is a trick, but I’m actually happy I had that experience. Like you, I would have never eaten it of my own free will.

  9. uneekmuslimah says:


    We used to believe that egg yolk was cholestrol and all that bad stuf …. but when I subscribed to Mike Geary’s newsletters, there was an article he sent in which he said that egg yolk was actually good for health coz we need protien and it’s the best source.

    About the brains well Indians mostly love it and all the other parts like hooves and tongue and eyes ….. well I only love the hooves curry it’s really delicious how my mum makes it (it only smell when unprepared but after it’s cooked it dosen’t we even make it’s soup coz it’s good for gaining strength especially after child birth) ….. but the brain and tongue even if it’s made with all the good spices I can never think of eating it …..

    Anyways I think you must have been near the news most of tuesday …. Congrats on your elect-president and let’s hope for real change Insha Allah ….

  10. Marahm says:

    Thank you, uneekmuslimah! Today, the entire country seems united and happy in Barack’s victory. Even the McCain supporters seem to accept it and support Barack. McCain gave a wonderful speech conceding the election, but Obama’s speech inspired everyone!

    Hooves curry? Sorry, but it sounds awful. There’s that cultural bias, again. I suppose the human body can digest almost any part of an animal used for food. It’s amazing that various cultures have turned against various organs and innards.

  11. Krystal says:

    I don’t accept that Barack won.The more I think about it the madder I get.And it is not because he is African-American ,I have all kinds of African-American neighbors and we all get along really good.I only hate Icelanders,but GOD is dealing with me about that.

    Talking about eating brains and tongues,Icelanders eat sheep heads.I grew up there and I could only eat the skin part,it was put over a flame and burnt and tasted pretty good after the sheep heads had been boiled.That s the only way they are cooked,if I remember right.The heads are split in two and sold that way,so people can eat what is inside of them.And I’d look at all that stuff inside the sheep head with great curiosity and I can say it was an emotional experience,but I never went for it much.Give me chocolate instead I say.But,to most Icelanders it’s a delicacy and only eaten on special occasion.I’m glad my mom never forced me to eat it.

    Do people like these egg sandwiches with brains,generally in Saudi Arabia?And do the housewives in Saudi Arabia cook often hoofs for dinner?

  12. Marahm says:

    Welcome to the blog, Krystal, and thanks for your comment! I am sorry you are displeased with Barack’s victory. You might want to listen to the speech he gave in Chicago Tuesday night, if you haven’t already. Your disapointment may soften, at least slightly.

    Your comments about Icelanders eating sheep’s heads are as interesting as they are shocking. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Well, I’m sure there are many “foods” of which I’ve never heard of!

    I don’t know whether Saudis are enamoured of egg-and-brain sandwhiches. I don’t know about hooves for dinner either, though I did see such offerings in the meat suqs in certain Riyadh neighborhoods.

    One must remember that Riyadh, Jeddah, and the Eastern Province are highly multi-cultural. Certain items sold there may not appeal to Saudis at all, but will be popular amongst expatriate workers.

  13. Aafke says:


    Egg are allright! you can eat them every day!

  14. What a shock that must have been LOL
    Did you swollow the food in your mouth or did you manage to politly stop eating it?
    Oh man reminds me the time my MIL put a sheep head on the table…i couldn’t eat until she removed it…..they were offended…. I was ill though so I won 😉
    Remind me not to eat eggs with random taxi drivers…..

  15. My husband loves this dish … I won’t even try the stuff!

  16. ruhsablogger says:

    brain is actually quite tasty if prepared with enough spices to cover the taste. the hoof curry tastes good as well, but the gelatinous consistency is hard to ignore. you hafta try some of these things 🙂

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