To wonder is to acknowledge possibility and open the door for progress. As a pre-med, it will help me become a lifelong learner on my professional journey.
Fried lamb brain is a specialty of my mom’s hometown in India. Although I loved eating it, I never paid attention to the cooking process. Then at age 10, I watched as she first boiled the brain and then peeled away the remaining bits of a transparent film. Does it protect the brain or hold it together? She cut along large grooves in the brain, revealing something with two large bumps. What do they do? I didn’t learn the names of these structures (pia mater, sulci, colliculi) until much later, but there, in the kitchen, I developed an appreciation for anatomy. I learned to wonder.
As I started studying neuroscience in college, the pre-med classmates that inspired me most were those who lived in that space of wonder; they seemed to experience it in everything. They wondered how body systems were connected, how their classes worked together, how their clubs might be improved. This didn’t just make them good students, it benefited them as people. They made more consistent progress toward long-term goals, were better equipped to serve their communities, and were more resilient against burnout.
As I progressed through my pre-med journey, I began working as a patient advocate. One clinician at my office wondered if we could improve care by sharing our resource database with all patients. This would allow patients to find resources and apply for them if necessary. Our patients became more informed and more independent, so we had time to pursue finding other patient resources that were often pushed aside, like tutoring programs and job training.
Wonder in college, and at all times in our lives, requires humility. It isn’t compatible with the all-knowing attitude that pre-meds feel pressured to present. But to wonder is not to confess a permanent ignorance. It is just the opposite. To wonder is to confess ignorance without resigning to it. It is to acknowledge possibility and open the door for progress. I don’t know what exact role wonder will play for me in the future, but I hope that it will help me become a lifelong learner and excellent healthcare professional. For now, I guess I can only wonder.
Fried Lamb Brain
Ingredients: 3 medium lamb brains (whole), 1 T ginger-garlic paste, 1 large red onion, 2 medium tomatoes, 3 green chilies, 1 T ginger-garlic paste, canola oil
Use any spices that you have! My mom uses: 3 t turmeric powder, 2 t chili powder, 2 t coriander powder, 2 t cumin powder (or 1 t cumin seeds), 1 t pepper (or 1 t black peppercorns), 3-5 black cloves, half of a cinnamon stick, 2-3 cloves of green cardamom, 2 t garam masala, 2 t salt
1. Slice red onions very finely, dice tomatoes, and slice green chilies lengthwise. Remove the flesh of the chili connected to the seeds for a less spicy dish.
2. Add 1 t turmeric powder and 1 t salt to boiling water. Boil brains for 3 minutes, or until the brains turn white.
3. Remove blood vessels and membranes from brains.
4. Cut the brain into small pieces and fry in 2 T oil for 2-3 minutes.
5. Remove brain and add aromatic spices (peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves) to the pan.
6. When the spices are sizzling, add onions and green chilies. Cook until the onions become golden brown. Then add ginger-garlic paste, tomato, remaining turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, and salt.
7. Add about ⅓ cup of water and allow to simmer. When the mixture becomes slurry-like, add the brain back in.
8. Slowly add ¼ cup of water and additional spices to taste.
9. Cook for 5 minutes on medium flame, then add coriander leaves.
1o. Enjoy with rice or roti!
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.