Wednesday, April 28, 2010

If I Could Eat Anything ...

As you know, my husband recently had open heart surgery, and before we left the hospital, the doctor told him that for one month or so, he could eat anything he wants. After that, my husband and I will both go on a heart healthy diet, but for now, the doctor wants him to eat anything he desires, just to build back up his strength. So just imagine if you were given the go ahead to eat whatever you wanted, what would you eat? Well, my list would definitely contain dark chocolate, mashed potatoes, crab, steak, cheesecake, cashews, Crispy Creme Donuts, coconut creme pie, and Cheetos! Hmmm ... seems like an awful lot of those foods start with the letter "C" ... wonder what that means? Anyway, what would you have on your list?





Adnan has always been a healthy eater and doesn't crave sweets the way I do. And since the surgery, he hasn’t had much of an appetite, but the one decadent thing that he requested was a special dish here made with animal fat called “foul wu semn” (beans with animal fat). We enjoy eating the “poor man’s breakfast” here in Saudi Arabia, which consists of a regional bean dish called foul (pronounced fool) and wonderful flatbread which is called tameez. It’s very filling and quite tasty.


Every morning these tiny shops that pretty much only make and sell foul and tameez are bustling with male customers, most of them hard laborers starting their day. Oftentimes there is a crowd five men deep. This breakfast which will easily serve 3-4 people costs a total of 3 riyals, which is about US 75 cents. I had always waited in the car whenever Adnan got this for us for breakfast, but recently I went in to take a look at one of the little shops that sells foul and tameez.


The foul is generally accompanied with extra sauce (similar to salsa) to spice it up to your liking. Other spices are also added. Adnan usually likes to add olive oil as well. The foul is slow cooked in a huge round balloon shaped metal pot which is tilted over a charcoal burner.


Because the opening is so small and the pot is so big, a special spoon with an extremely long handle is required to stir the beans and extract them. The specially melted animal fat (I believe it is from goat) is a rich clear golden yellow color and is added to the foul to enhance the flavor.


Depending on which country the tameez maker is from, the flatbread can vary in size, consistency, and flavor. Most tameez that I have seen is at least the size of a large pizza in diameter.


Some are sprinkled with blackened sesame seeds, some have lines made with a spoked wheel running across them, and others are thicker and almost rubbery, but in a good way.


The tameez is baked in a huge tiled igloo-shaped oven and special long instruments are needed to flip and retrieve the tameez when it’s done. You can also order tameez which is filled with cheese.


Foul and tameez is one of the fabulous ethnic foods available in KSA that I have come to love.

41 comments:

  1. French fries, chicken wings and bacon!!

    Linda

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  2. Also,
    Cheeseburgers and nachos.

    Linda

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  3. i remember the first time i was offered fool, was at my inlaws house and i took offense as my father in law kept shouting to me "fool - fool" i thought he was calling ME a fool evey one thought it was really funny!!! i love tomese its so filling and trying it with puk thick cream with honey poured over the top then tomese dipped into it, delish, and yes very very fattening :))

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  4. I am surprised by the doctor's recommendation, but he probably just meant not to worry as much about fat content and calories.

    Some diets build strength (rather than just add pounds to regain weight) better than others.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what I would eat, but I'm thinking it wouldn't be foul! LOL :)

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  5. I am surprised by the doctor's recommendation, but he probably just meant not to worry as much about fat content and calories.

    Some diets build strength (rather than just add pounds to regain weight) better than others.

    Anyway, I'm not sure what I would eat, but I'm thinking it wouldn't be foul! LOL :)

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  6. I'm with you for all the sweets I can eat, and do. Don't suppose all those "C" words have anything to to do with Cardiac.

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  7. Wow, that sounds so good! I definitely want to try that! I love foods that have lots of animal fat, like Peking duck or any poultry or ham where the skin stays on.

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  8. My problem is that I eat whatever I want already! Working on that, though...

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  9. Hey Susie...A heart healthy diet won't be so bad, there are many delicious things included (I should start it too). Among my favorite things are sweet cherries, dried apricots, rhubarb pie and huge salads. On the bad side...I love cheese and junk food once in awhile.

    I would love to give up meat, and we have cut back on it. I would not go for the foul, but the tameez looks spectacular. The way these two things are prepared is very interesting.

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  10. btw, Chiara-my dad had the same surgery a few years ago and they recommended the same thing. It's such a huge surgery and I believe the body burns 10,000 calories just for the surgery alone. Doctors recommend that in order to help the patient recover. After that, though, it's a different story!

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  11. Basically any kind of greasy, salty fast food. I try to eat only halal and kosher meats, and none of the fast food chains where I live have these things, so when I see them I get super excited. I could also probably eat grilled fish (any kind) every single day at every meal, as well as summer fruits like cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and watermelon. :)

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  12. Cheese enchiladas with suiza sauce, refritos and spanish rice with a margherita. Or rare prime rib with a baked potato with sour cream AND butter and a Malbec. Or spicy blue corn chips and guacamole and a Negro Modelo with a lime. Or anything fatty and salty....

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  13. Calories, Calories, Calories starts with C!!

    Krispie Kreme starts with K so, those should be OK. :-)

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  14. I tend to like beans, but not for breakfast. :) All those pictured items look good!

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  15. Hmmmm Susie, I love foul and Tameez so much. I miss a lot of food back home!

    I love sweets and pastries very much, but I am trying to keep a track of what I eat to be healthier!

    Hope the best for you and Adnan.

    May Allah bless you...


    Loved your post, so yummy !

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  16. Mmmh! I like foul a lot, too! :)

    My favorite Arabic food, however, still is Koshari, so nutritious, fast, and healthy!

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  17. Hi Susie,
    I would like to ask you one question not really related to what you wrote, I hope it is ok.
    Well I was wondering what Adnan parents, brothers and co said about him and you getting married at first? Did they all agree?
    thank you for your help!

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  18. I think in Canada and the USA the doctors would probably say to eat as much as you want of healthy foods but as Adnan's appetite isn't good he certainly needs to eat what he likes to build up strength. The good thing about Fuul is that if you can make it or find someplace that doesn't use animal fat it's a very healthy food. We make it here at home but use olive oil. In Sudan it is eaten with sesame oil on top and for breakfast often a hard or soft cooked egg is placed on top as well and it's served with a hot sauce called Shota. It is delicious!!!

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  19. Butter chicken, barbequed anything (steak, chicken, fish, ribs etc.), teppanyaki, mangoes, strawberries, peaches (but only in the Okanagan where I know they've been ripened on the tree and are huge), tempura battered sweet potatoes and sweet potato fries, buffalo chicken anything, the list goes on!

    I went to a vegan Asian restaurant yesterday, not knowing what I was in for...holy cow was their fake meat so real tasting! Their coconut curry was divine and I might add that to my list up there, haha!

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  20. I'm also surprised at the doctor's recommendation.I'm a health care professional, we would never recommend to eat unhealthy foods.Yes he needs to increase his calorie intake because of the surgery, but empty calories,I don't think so..

    and the "c" is for cholesterol that blocks your arteries and leads to cardiac diseases.

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  21. I love your blog! I just discovered it and blew off going to the grocery store to lurk around. I would love to visit Saudi Arabia, and every time I say that, someone says "whatever for?" I shall link them up to your blog next time. Hope your husband feels better! My Russian husband is an AWFUL patient. AWFUL.

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  22. Munir--yes my comment was as an MD who has done a turn in the critical care units, though now specialized in psychiatry. I did a rapid PubMed check and the issue is increased caloric intake of nutritious food, not just empty calories. Since often patients have problems with appetite and pain, the "eat whatever you like" is more broad, but not a junk food diet. One might say "drink whatever flavour of Ensure appeals to you".

    If foul then so be it--not the worst option, even with the animal fat thrown in.

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  23. Well, eating everything I want without restrictions seems to be my current problem, so... lucky Adnan... his is doctor ordered! :-) Enjoy!

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  24. Yummy, the foul & tameez look delicious!



    -Lena

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  25. I'd forgotten about your initial question - your post about foul and tameez is far more fascinating to me that western junk food I know all too well.

    Was there any problem in you walking around to take these photos? Was your husband next to you at all times? I assume he was the one who asked permission for you to take pictures?

    A wonderful wonderful post anyway.

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  26. Hi Everybody - Thanks for your comments. I guess the list of foods we all like that are not so good for us is pretty long!

    Hi Trae - I haven't had tameez with cream and honey - I'll have to try that!

    Hi Chiara - All the times that we have had foul and tameez before, we never had it with animal fat - we always just used olive oil. I didn't even know about this way of eating with animal fat until Adnan said he wanted it on the way home from the hospital!

    Hi UmmOmar - Glad to hear that your dad had the same sutrgery and is doing well 10 yrs later.

    Hi BananaAnne - I love greasy and salty too...

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  27. Hi Kim - The prime rib and baked potato actually got me salivating!!!

    Hi Queen - I guess I don't eat Krispy Kreme enough to remember it's spelled with "K"!!!

    Hi Hamdah - I really love cheese danish for breakfast too - forgot to add that on my list.

    Hi Anon @3:56PM - Well, Adnan and I had a 12 yr long courtship, and we were married in the states and stayed there for another 18 yrs before we moved to Jeddah. So his family was so far away for 30 yrs that they really didn't have much input either way. They have always been very warm with me and they are so happy to have him back in Saudi now that they are happy to have me here too because we are a package deal, I guess!

    Hi Wendy - We've had eggs with foul before too. I like almost any bean dish I've ever had. I grew up in the southwest US on Mexican refried beans - love, love, love 'em!

    Hi Jennifer - Thanks so much - you made my day.

    Hi Nathalie - Some of the photos were taken from the car on earlier excursions. For the ones I took inside the shop, my hubby stayed in the car and I went inside with my brother-in-law. I was the one who asked the attendant if I could take photos and he obliged graciously. The culture here would dictate that I shouldn't speak to other men, but my personality and openness doesn't permit me to not be friendly! My hubby and others seem to have accepted me this way finally - it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks!!! (I am the old dog in this scenario.)

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  28. Susie, I need an urgent favour, please. I can't write to you because I don't know if you have recovered your email yet. Can you please email me?

    Many thanks

    PS: I'm on a diet so I can't anything I *desire* either :(

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  29. Hi Suroor - Just email me at susieofarabia@gmail.com

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  30. Well, I once had foul and tameez for breakfast for a month (we were in a rural place and it was that or starve) and after that I was a bit "beaned out"!! Tameez is wonderful! I always loved it with bananas (and sometimes honey too!). But my absolute favourite of all time was the tameez made with date paste that we had for breakfast on a date farm in Hofuf! Yummy, yummy, yummy!! I have never found anyone else who can make it, in Riyadh or elsewhere, but Wow, it was just the best breakfast, fresh from the oven!
    Hope the recovery is swift and as good as the start promises! All the best.

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  31. I love foul and tamez. When I was pregnant with my first son in Madinah I used to go every evening to the place where they sold tamez and ful. The men used to make way for me and Id order my ful. I craved it soo badly. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! If I was able to eat anything it would be steak every day with mashed potatoes folowed oh so swiftly with fudge brownie topped by double chocolate brownie icecream. yum!

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  32. Fries with gravy. Burgers, chicken wings, cheese cake, burritos, seafood fettucini!

    Hoping husband has a swift recovery.

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  33. Tacos and beer would have to be on my list for sure!!! Lawana

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  34. I can't just think about this or I'll just start exploring the fridge. Let's say anything with chocolate inside, on top or made of...

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  35. You would earn million of $ if you open a chain of middle eastern food restaurant in the US.It is healthy in general.

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  36. Foul and tameez sound wonderful but foul is a rather funny name for a delicious food. My favorites would be dark chocolate and soft serve ice cream.

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  37. The best foul I eat in Jeddah is in IKEA ...hmmm

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  38. ms susie

    in my list would be sushi, cheesecake with snickers from cheesecake factory, chicken teriyaki, ice creams from baskin robbins, carbonara, fatoush, kabsa lol

    hope for the best, inshAllah ur husband will have a speedy recovery!

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  39. I love foul too. It is the national dish of Egypt!

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  40. Just my opinion but I can't believe a doctor would allow him to have a product with so much animal fat. Can you substitute olive oil which is so much better for him? My husband had a triple bypass about 18 years ago and I, myself, had quadruple heart surgery 8 years ago. I never had a sweet tooth or ate much fried foods so didn't really have any cravings.

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  41. Hi Susie....I love tamees and foul as well. The thing which is called 'samin' is actually sheep's ghee/clarified sheep'd butter :D

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