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Scottish Food: A Beginner’s Guide

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This article is by Scottish writer James Cave who approached me recently about guest posting on Uforic Food. When he told me his idea – I was very excited! With St Andrew’s Day around the corner and Burn’s Night not too far away from that, James wanted to take a fresh look at some of Scotland’s best and worst culinary delights. Scotland is often looked down upon when it comes to food, but he convinced me that although there are a few dishes that definitely deserve this ill treatment, that he could show that not all Scottish dishes are worthy of such a bad name. Here’s his post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Leave your thoughts on Scottish food in the comments section below – what have your experiences of Scottish food been? Have you tried Haggis and what did you think? I haven’t had the privilege of going to Scotland, but I think I might just head on over there, thanks to James’ culinary commentary:

Scotland is well known for picturesque mountain scenery, bagpipes, and men wearing skirts. But the cuisine of this plucky little country has a lot going for it, too; from weird and wonderful local delicacies, to seriously tasty fare.

Photo coutesy of Tess Watchson http://www.flickr.com/photos/tessawatson/

First I want to talk about haggis. Growing up in Scotland, I’ve never thought anything strange about the “chieftain o’ the puddin’ race”. What I did find strange was watching an American at a Hogmanay party screaming bloody murder when someone tried to feed it to him. Despite assurances that it was tasty and he would love it, the poor boy was acting as if someone had presented him with a bowl of live spiders!

This made me realise that haggis has a bad reputation. Sure, it’s made out of sheep pluck (offal) stuffed inside a stomach and boiled, but isn’t that what all good-quality sausages are made from? Haggis is rich, meaty, spicy, and oaty. It goes well with everything (apart from maybe ice cream). It’s St Andrews day on the 30th November so if you haven’t tried haggis before, there’s a perfect excuse.

Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, is currently undergoing a foodie revolution. There are six Michelin Star restaurants within the city limits, some fabulous examples of independent diners (such as The Dogs), and a number of home supper clubs opening their doors. If you can find cheap flights to Edinburgh I highly recommend visiting this culturally vibrant city, and checking out some Edinburgh food blogs for tips on restaurants to visit while you’re there.

Scotland has a centuries old relationship with France, known as the Auld Alliance. So it comes as no surprise that there are some brilliant examples of French cuisine in Edinburgh, with the best examples using local Scottish cuisine and even serving ‘tablet’ (a kind of hard fudge) during the coffee course. And when it comes to sugar loaded treats, no-one does it like the Scots.

I’ll concede that some aspects of modern Scottish cuisine are undesirable. Deep-fried food, for instance. Walk into any Scottish chip shop and you will be able to get almost anything slathered in batter and boiled in hot oil; including haggis, Mars Bars, and even pizza.

One West Coast special that you have to see to believe is the Munchie Box. Munchie Boxes are pizza boxes stuffed with different deep fried snacks: usually an assortment of pakora, onion rings, greasy donor kebab meat, and chips. The bad news is that you’re unlikely to find these outside of Glasgow or Falkirk, but the good news is that if you’re staying in Edinburgh the West Coast is but a short drive away.

Scots have a reputation for being hard drinkers, and you’ll not be disappointed by the quality of the pubs. Be sure to try out local craft-beer Brewdog, and if you’re feeling worse for wear in the morning rest assured that it’s nothing a haggis roll and a can of local soft-drink Irn Bru won’t sort out.

By James Cave

What did you think of James’s  views on Scottish food? I’m still pretty scared of haggis, myself. Share your experiences in the comments sections below.

I’ll leave you with a taste of Scottish music – I have quite often seen the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on TV. I find it captivating.

P.S If you have a guest post idea, feel free to email me at uforicfood@yahoo.com . We’re always interested in featuring fabulous food thoughts, recipes, and writing.

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