avatarSherry Atkinson

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Childhood Memory

Brainsineggs: A Southern Delicacy or a Child’s Nightmare?

Mispronunciations and culinary confusion

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As a child growing up in the American South, there was a breakfast dish that I adored. It was a rare treat, something we only had on special occasions, like when my Aunt Willie Bell came to visit from Atlanta. We called it “Brainsineggs”. Yes, you read that right, “Brainsineggs.” To my little ears, it was all one word! And, that word was synonymous with “delicious”!

Brainsinegs were always served with biscuits. I loved my mama’s biscuits, but it was hard for me to say if I loved hers more than Aunt Willie Bell’s. Each had their special touch. Aunt Willie Bell’s were a little flatter and crispier. Mama’s were a bit fluffier, but not too fluffy. Both were delicious when slathered with butter and covered in thick sorghum, a type of syrup similar to molasses, and popular in the South.

It all started innocently enough. Picture this: a sunny morning in our cozy Southern kitchen, with the scent of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air. Aunt Willie l was visiting with my cousin Frances, who was two years younger than I, and somewhat a know-it-wall. Mama and Aunt Willie were busy putting breakfast together. Aunt Willie was making the biscuits that morning. Daddy was outside watering the garden. I was bouncing around with excitement because this was a Brainsinegs day (and, I tended to be rather hyper anyway). Frances was sitting at the table looking glum. She didn’t like this breakfast fare, but she was a picky eater all the time.

And there it was, laid out before me on the kitchen table. A plate of golden, flaky buttermilk biscuits. Beside that plate was a pile of those special scrambled eggs, fluffy and inviting. As a child, I didn’t think much about the name. Brainsineggs sounded like a whimsical, made-up word, something out of a Dr. Seuss book. I would eagerly dive into my plate, relishing each bite as if it were a slice of heaven. The buttery, flaky biscuits would melt in my mouth, and the special eggs were perfectly seasoned.

But, on this fateful morning, as I sat down to enjoy my beloved Brainsinegs, it happened.

Just before I was about to pop the first bite into my mouth, Frances piped up, “You know what those are don’t you?”

“Sure I do! Brainsineggs!” I replied, but hesitated before putting them in my mouth. Something about the way she said it made me pause.

I looked at the dish with fresh eyes, as if a switch had been flipped in my brain. My heart sank, and a chill ran down my spine. The name, “Brainsinegs,” suddenly made sense. It was no longer a playful, fantastical word but a stark reality.

I turned to my parents, my voice trembling with realization. “Wait a minute. Brains…and…eggs?”

My parents, my aunt, and Frances exchanged knowing glances, trying to stifle their laughter. My daddy, with a twinkle in his eye, confirmed my worst fears. “Yes, sweetie. Pork brains and eggs. It’s a Southern delicacy!”

I couldn’t believe it. All those years, I had been devouring pork brains, thinking they were just another form of scrambled eggs. The truth hit me like a ton of bricks, and I pushed my plate away, my appetite suddenly gone.

From that day forward, Brainsineggs lost their luster for me. The thought of consuming pig brains, no matter how deliciously prepared, was just too much for my young mind to handle. Aunt Willie’s visits to our home were no longer filled with anticipation but with a tinge of dread.

In the end, Brainsineggs taught me a valuable lesson about the power of words and the importance of knowing what’s on your plate. It also became a source of endless amusement for my family, who never let me forget the day I realized that “Brainsinegs” was not a whimsical creation but a culinary adventure of a different kind.

So, while I may have outgrown my love for Brainsineggs, the memory of those breakfasts, and the laughter they brought to our kitchen, will forever be a cherished part of my Southern upbringing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Pork brains? Really?” Yes, really. In our part of the South, pork brains and eggs were considered a delicacy.

Lovingly called “brains ’n’ eggs,” this Southern staple was served up for breakfast during the mid-20th century. While the dish likely originated among farmers who used their own livestock, it eventually became so popular that canned brains became available on grocery store shelves. Now, however, the die-hard devotees of the traditional dish are few in number, as more contemporary diners have strayed from the idea of offal on their breakfast plate. But ask any elder from the Southern United States, and they’ll attest to the popularity of the brain scramble, with many claiming the dish to be as integral to Southern culture as Coca-Cola. From: AtlasObscura.com

So, I’m two days late for the Reader’s Hope September invitation provided by Surekha Chandrasekhar to share a story about trying an exotic food. I had started the story before I had a little surgical detour, but was finally able to sit at my table and finish today. I want to thank Surekha for providing this prompt, and for the Illumination Integrated Publications for giving new writers the opportunity to publish in Reader’s Hope.

To read about Surekha’s adventure with Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee ) check here:

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