Forsan Fascination & Security Standoff….

You may, or may well not and goodness knows I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, recall an old post where I discussed the Riyadh butchers known as Forsan.

Food buying in the land of sand is always an interesting conundrum which requires skill, patience, multiple language skills, (or failing that extreme hand gesture skills), and a not inconsiderable amount of trust.


The purchase of meat augments this further and on arrival in The Kingdom not only do you go through all the delightful Residency Permit palava, but you also get issued with your sixth sense for meat purchasing.

This becomes the norm and quite frankly serves you well.

Supermarket meat is adequate but on occasion a trip to Forsan is required.

Today is one such occasion as the small testosterone filled one has requested a roast dinner.


We had an incling that this was coming so last week’s trip on the BA big bird, (usual disclaimer applies), meant that hand luggage was accompanied by a cool bag filled to the brim with quality Brussels sprouts and parsnips.

This is in itself lead to some chaos as I put the cool bag on the security belt for scanning at the airport.

Stern faced and officious security lady, (SFAOSL): ‘Do you have any liquids in there?’

Me, (Harrassed, tired traveller with two squabbling children – HTTWTSC): ‘No’

SFAOSL: ‘Are you sure?’


SFAOSL: ‘Are you really sure?’


This was rapidly approaching stand off point, pistols at dawn type of thing, two women who were firmly sticking to their guns. If by any chance any liquids at all showed I on the scanner, SFAOSL was making it perfectly clear that she was going to make my life hell, I would be in for a long wait and she may well make me miss my flight.

I on the other hand knew for a fact that there was no liquid in there and she was knocking at an open door.

SFAOSL, (complete with an evil glint in her eye): ‘So, what is in there then?’

HTTWTSC, (completely smug): ‘A kilogram of Sainsbury’s finest sprouts, 8 parsnips, two bags of ground coffee and three packs of tea bags’

SFAOSL looked at me with that ‘yeah right I have heard that one before’ look as she virtually sprinted over to the screen with excitement to view my liquids I was about to apparently take onto the BA big bird.

Ah smug mode.

To say SFAOSL was ceastfallen is the understatement. With hindsight I really should have had the legend that is Tommo’s 6 cans of mushy peas in there as the icing on the cake……


So, off we went to Forsan this morning. There are a few things to consider about Forsan.

Firstly the name. You see my brain works considerably faster than any other part of my body – in particular my mouth. As such, I always have to take considerable care when discussing the name Forsan as quite frankly many brain may well provide my mouth with a slight variation on the name that could cause a stir in a highly conservative muslim country and even more so when heading to a butchers shop.

Forsan is a quality butchers shop where your sixth sense for meat purchasing can be relegated to a hands off, supervisory role.

Finally, there is a constant and glaring anomaly in Forsan which always leads to considerable fascination.

In the past I have discussed the issue around chickens here. Not the live type, wondering happily round a free range pasture, with space fresh air, organic food and a generally luxurious lifestyle. No, I am talking about Saudi slain ones, plucked, washed, packed and available in the supermarkets.

The chickens you buy here for cooking are minute, in fact they are about the size of a well fed pigeon.


Now it has been suggested to me that this is actually a good thing as they haven’t been fed steroids and other nasty things which make UK chickens into comparative mutants that could carry away a small child. So, on that point I have to give a nod of approval – for what its worth.

However, on a practical point, when you have a small testosterone filled man to feed then one small chicken does not fit the bill. He could easily swallow one whole.

So, with the standard supermarket chickens I usually buy 2-3 to roast and they get devoured.

However, in Forsan there is a slight issue – not that we were there to buy chicken for our roast, but as we were there anyway we stocked up on some various cuts of poultry.

In the past I have been in Forsan and have been impressed by the size of the chicken breasts, thighs and legs. They are large, meat covered and scrumptious looking.

So, in my naivety, I assumed that they must have come from a plumper, more robust bird and made enquiries relating to this.

Now, granted there were some communication issues between me and the Phillipino butchers, but I failed dismally to find out for certain where these plump cuts of chuck chuck had come from.

I am no butcher, but even I know that such prime pieces of meat must have come from an equally prime chicken. You do not see an emaciated looking chicken with Arnold Scwarzeneggar type legs very often do you?


So, on this previous visit I asked about where the chicken parts had come from – optimistic that I would be able to buy a single, prime chicken – big enough to feed us all.

Various conversations with various Phillipino butchers followed involving animated arm movements, chicken impressions and parodies of plump chickens,  and various whole chickens were paraded in front of me. All small, emaciated looking examples and quite frankly smaller than a single chicken thigh that was on display, showing off its prowess on the shelf next door in the fridge.

I left that day still confused about where these specimens had come from and was reminded of the same today on our visit as the fridge was full of prime legs, wings, breasts and thighs.

You will be relieved to know, (as was himself by the way), that I restrained myself and did not ask about where they had come from and if they had any plump whole chickens.


However, the mystery is ongoing, somewhere there must be some large, plump chickens doing their thing before sacrificing themselves to end up strutting their stuff in the fridges of Forsan.

Another of the land of sand’s best kept secrets I suspect…..

Right, so what else has been happening?

Well, as himself was sorting out the beef for the roast I was despatched back to the car for fear of me instigating another conversation about mutant chicken thighs.

While alone in the car, (well apart from the gruesome twosome but as they had their noses in iPads I was as good as alone). I changed the music in the car to Guns’N’Roses and put it on loud.

I became aware of being watched and looked up to see a local chap glaring at me from outside.


Yeap, I guess that ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ was not to his liking – especially as music and entertainment is not widely appreciated here.

Fortunately himself appeared back and we drove off before any major altercations took place.

Training has been woefully inadequate of late and I must get my backside back into gear soon. Quite frankly my elbow and hip have not been great. My foots doing fine though! I have been frequenting the gym with the small man but not at my usual intensity. As for swimming, well my dodgy elbow has put paid to that at the moment.

But I will return…..

Right, roast is calling….


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