The Scottish Gourmand

A culture-rich country which lay to the east
where we were invited to conference and feast
from Cuba to China, and some of the rest
they bade them here gather and money invest
for though that land needed infusions of cash
its laws were quite muddled and leaders were rash;
the tourism Minister himself was on site
but Āghā was murky on investors’ rights.
They offered their finest concoctions, to wit
the roe of beluga and lamb on a spit—
the sabzi’s exquisite, the rice bears zirishk
and stragglers go hungry for dining is brisk.
They laid out some ghīme, and eggplant in stew
a batch of māhīche and some sāgo goo
enticing the mehmāns were piles of kabob
with fragrant meat pilaf and corn on the cob.

Who’s raiding the dishes? A gigantic Scot
that pondered but little though bantered a lot.
McTartan let’s call him, a comic device
we managed to prattle ‘tween mouthfuls of rice
emerging triumphant, with rice cooked in dill
and succulent fowl he’d snatched off the grill.
Suit baggy and draping a Highlander’s frame,
his brain tried to focus on everyone’s name—
a Glaswegian bonhomme, projecting great mirth
with sonorous laughter befitting his girth.
His first time abroad, they based him in Doha
but meeting some locals, he called out Aloha!
With ginger head-stubble as red as his fist
he wanted for nothing save Scotch which he missed.
Round visage expansive, and ruddy of cheek
Scots accent so laden you’d say he spoke Greek.
“I’ll tell you,” he ventured, “for such is the case
the bosses they want me for my Western face.
I thought that we’d left you in ‘73.
The Brits are recruited for prestige, you see!
As soon as they’d sodded away with their tanks
the English invaded with tankers and banks,
and, you Arab sir, whose name is unsung
start writing your notions in this Anglo tongue!”
He chatted on subjects I wished to avoid,
while throwing some cutlets deep into his void.
Our friend disowned haggis, he jonesed for kabob,
accosting the table ahead of the mob.
A Celtic marauder sans dagger and kilt,
his cavernous innards he’d stuff to the hilt.
The queue was a battle, the feeding cutthroat
like hungry piranhas de-fleshing a goat.
Now as I recall it, they did grill a goat
and went on to maul it excepting the coat
when seconds are needed, experience had taught
the chow was depleted, so load up a lot!
The puddings were funny, though bursting with color
the flavor of one was as drab as the other.
Our Scotsman was sated, and thought it divine
that he had been fated his stomach to line.
Though chewing was noisy, and slurping was loud
an eye-pleasing beauty he spied in the crowd.
Her eyes were to die for, her manteau was smart,
her gorgeous appearance matched pureness of heart
and though he converted, her dad to appease
it’s totally worth it, she feeds him with ease.
He moved back to Scotland, amid wintry scenes
to tuck into tahdīg with lovely Shireen.


Āghā: Mister, as in Mister Minister
sabzi: Persian herb stew
zirishk: common barbery, also spelled zereshk
ghīme: minced meat, also spelled qeema
māhīche: lamb shank with dill rice and broad beans
sāgo: pudding made with starch extracted from a type of palm tree
mehmāns: guests
tahdīg: crispy Persian rice



Wael Almahdi is a poet from the island of Bahrain. He has been a dentist for 12 years. He has also worked in English Arabic translation for 20 years. His poem “Rain” is slated to appear in the print edition of Arablit Quarterly. He can read a number of languages including Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, French, and Esperanto. 

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments.

CODEC Stories:

23 Responses

  1. Morrison Handley-Schachler

    A great read and a brilliant caricature, Wael. It wasn’t me! And I would certainly never disown haggis, which is a dish to be proud of.

  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    That is an amazing list of foods I have never sampled before! Excellent rhyme, meter, and imagery.

  3. Cheryl Corey

    Wael, this was great fun to read. For someone who’s a dentist, you’ve “extracted” a lot.

  4. Yael

    This is a fun tale well told, I enjoyed it. I love how the lines and rhymes meander along like a long cafeteria lunch-line. Even though racial and cultural cliches and stereotypes are hinted at, the rich imagery and the description of details make for a very engaging story with a surprise twist at the end, good job!

  5. Paul Freeman

    ‘…like hungry piranhas de-fleshing a goat…’ Classic!

    Thanks for a fun piece, Wa’el.

  6. C.B. Anderson

    Nice work, Wael. I seldom read such sparkling words, both cogent and diffractive. You stack up with some of the best that inhabit this site. And I might even feel good about letting you oversee my teeth.

  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    I see that you mention “sago” in line 14. I think you are the second writer in English literature to do so. The other is the anonymous person who penned the following limerick:

    There was an old man of Tobago,
    Who lived on rice, gruel, and sago,
    Till much to his bliss
    His physician said this:
    “To leg, sir, of mutton, you may go.”

    The only other possible rhymes for it that I can think of are “dago” and “Pago Pago.”

    • Paul Freeman

      An old man from Terra Del Fuego
      ate bowl upon bowl full of sago.
      He threw up in fits,
      it gave him the squits,
      but somehow it cured his lumbago.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Not English obviously, but:
      “Et in Arcadia ego”
      (the work of Poussin, not El Greco)

  8. Geoffrey S.

    Hilarious and delightful. Exotically different. Those odd rhymes add to the comic effect, zirishk with brisk, for example or kebob with mob and cob. The fat Scotsman is a funny reversal on the Hollywood Arab stereotype. Enjoyed this line, “He chatted on subjects I wished to avoid,/while throwing some cutlets deep into his void.” What a glutton. What a funny word “Glaswegian” is.

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        Good fun. Your scene reminds me of a song Burl Ives recorded, “Killigrew’s Soiree”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.