In the Arabian Gulf, the workweek starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Saudi Arabia was actually the last country in the region to adopt this schedule, only switching over from a Thursday-Friday weekend to a Friday-Saturday weekend in 2013.
Though the days of the week are different, the pace and feel of the weekends in Riyadh are much the same as what we are accustomed to in the US. Like Sunday in the States, Friday is the day of rest in Saudi Arabia, with Jummah prayer, which takes place at noon on Friday, being the most important prayer service of the week. In observance of this, businesses do not open until 1pm on Friday, at which point my husband and I usually hit the road and try to quickly run errands before the worst of the evening traffic.
Saturdays tends to be much slower. I love, love, love breakfast food and I especially love a weekend brunch (I mean, who doesn’t). I literally fantasize about the perfect breakfast spread. I think about just the perfect pastry on just the right plate, with a room temperature pat of butter on the side. I think about perfectly fried eggs with glistening, orange yolks and a crack of black peppercorn and coarse sea salt on top. Often, as I lay in bed at night, I think about my breakfast plans. I eat at other times of the day because I have to. Breakfast is really the one that counts.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been easy to find a place that does an American breakfast just right. I didn’t come to Riyadh with that expectation. There are plenty of place to go. I’ve only tried a few, but I’ve never been satisfied. Too many times I have returned home still hungry and angry that some breakfast standby like scrambled eggs were too rubbery or hash browns too soggy. It’s easier for me to make it myself. To fulfill my weekly breakfast desires, on Saturdays I make my most elaborate breakfast of the week. In addition to the ever-present fresh juice and coffee, some of my ‘go-tos’ are gluten-free pancakes, frittatas, which are kind of like crustless quiche, and biscuits. My husband, Mike, who is a very good cook, is the egg-poaching expert. When I want poached eggs and smoked salmon, he is called upon.
This past Saturday I made strawberry spelt scones and a frittata, with feta and chives. There was also fresh juice (a citrus, carrot, turmeric, ginger combo) and since we ran out of coffee, I mixed some chai spices for tea. The inspiration for this breakfast blossomed from (excuse the pun) the flowering chives I‘d found in the grocery store the previous day. Unlike some other attractive ingredients, these were cheap and since the pretty, white flowers are edible, easy to use. I knew right away I’d use them to make a frittata. Frittatas have quickly become one my favorite egg dishes. They’re fast to make, incredibly versatile and if aesthetics are considered, they can look like real works of art. They’re like eggy canvases and each ingredient can be used like a brushstroke. I looked on Pinterest for some frittata with chives ideas and I came across a stunning Brie & chives recipe by chef, Heather Christo. I didn’t follow her recipe at all. I just wanted to try the cool presentation of laying the chives out on top of the dish. I didn’t execute it as beautifully as Heather. I frantically, and clumsily, placed the trimmed chives on top of the frittata in a much less orderly arrangement. Nevertheless, I’m inspired and I’ll be trying that again.
My strawberry spelt scones, another first for me, turned out very well. In the rush to eat, I forgot to take photos of the finished product. One of Mike’s friends came over and judging by the leftovers, they were given the stamp of approval. By the time I remembered to take a photo, only a partially eaten one was left.