Have you ever eaten brains for breakfast? Archaeologists learned early on that European Neanderthals consumed brains as a morning ritual. During my years documenting New Mexico’s Hispanic history I had a great revelation. I discovered that my ancestors regularly ate the brains of cows, goats, and sheep. The consumption of brain matter doesn’t sound too appetizing. However, from a nutritional standpoint brains are rich in DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid found in some types of fish. They’re also low in calories. An ounce of lamb brains has 35 calories, while beef brains have 41 calories per ounce.
Even today, the brains of pigs, squirrels, horses, cattle, and monkeys are considered a delicacy. Animal brains are consumed in some of the best restaurants in France, bathed in their famously rich sauces. The consumption of brains are popular in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. In those countries brains are often served with curries, in spicy Sichuan dishes and as fritters. In parts of Indonesia, monkey brains are served in the skull and passed around the dinner table.
Sesos Fritos (Fried Brains)
For those adventurous souls out there, here’s a recipe that may interest you from my cookbook, Las Comidas de los Abuelos:
2 pounds lamb or goat brains
1/4 pound bacon
1/4 cup dried onion
Fry the bacon, brains, and onion in a covered frying pan, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes. Serve with fried or scrambled eggs or eat in a tortilla sandwich.