Archive for June, 2010
Friday, June 25th, 2010
So you want to look manly in traditional Scottish garb? Well, now that you’ve found that perfect kilt or tartan, you should learn how to wear it properly. Here are some tips:
- The pleated section of your kilt belongs in the rear, as it is primarily used to provide a nice bit of cushion for sitting on, and a kilt with pleats in the front is a telltale sign of someone who failed to put it on correctly.
- After laying the pleats in the back, pull the under apron from right to left, passing its strap through the hole, and buckle it. The top apron should be loose now, ready for you to wrap it over your right hip from left to right, buckle and line up the top edges together.
- Kilts are worn just under the rib cage and they are designed to hang to the top or middle of the knees, depending on where you want them. The straps allow for easy side-to-side adjustments, and again, remember that the double apron section should always be in front. (more…)
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Most people, when you ask them what do they know about Scotsmen, would answer that they imagine a tall, strong man with fiery red hair, dressed in kilt, standing on a cliff on a misty morning, playing his bagpipes, possibly with some sheep in the background. To be honest, the truth is not as romantic and in many cases completely different from what the world thinks of them. Here are some myths and stereotypes about Scottish people that are not entirely true:
Scotsmen are miserly and reserved because of the hardship their nation went through.
Nothing less true. What many consider avarice is actually being practical. Even though it is often said that expenses are being cut in various fields, in all actuality the nation is developing at least as well as the rest of Great Britain, in some areas even better. Aside from that, on a more personal level, Scotsmen are very open and don’t hesitate to help others in need. Many immigrants praise the way they were welcomed by the natives when they arrived to Scotland.
Scottish dishes are inedible.
This is probably a myth that origins from the famous haggis, which, for many can be a bit overwhelming. But many well known, delicious dishes come from Scotland. Tattie scones, Dundee cake – which is known for its rich flavour – they all come from Scottish cuisine.
Scottish economy stands on… sheep.
Yes, Scotland is known for its sheep. But in recent years sheep breeding business is shrinking rapidly – it is seven hundred thousand pieces smaller than it was seven years ago. Aside from that Scotland has a good coal mining base, oil extraction on the North Sea shelf, well developed metallurgical, mechanical, chemical and electrical industries.
Men that wear kilts are always cold.
It is actually really difficult to feel cold in a kilt. For one, it is almost 23 feet of thick wool covering the area from waist to knees – that in itself is plenty to keep one warm. Aside from that, there are the woollen socks covering the lower legs – if anything, it can only be too warm. And that actually ties with another stereotype – that Scottish men don’t wear anything under their kilts. It probably depends on a person but sometimes, adding another layer could really be a bit much.
Friday, June 11th, 2010
Haggis is a traditional Scottish highland dish that resembles, in some senses, a rather rough sausage. It is the national dish of Scotland, and Robert Burns, the great Scots poet, who wrote the famous “Address to a Haggis” called the haggis the “chieftain o’ the puddin-race.” It is a staple of Scottish cuisine, and is served in the traditional manner, as well as in the “haggis supper” (deep fried haggis with a side of French fries) or even as a haggis burger. It is sold prepared in supermarkets year round. But what is actually in this mysterious and oft-misunderstood food?
Though the traditional response to the question “what is a haggis?” is often answered with a joke about a small highland animal with one pair of legs shorter than the other (to more easily circle the highland hills), the truth is that it is a food designed to let no part of the animal go to waste – hence its popularity amongst the poor in the days of Burns.
While it is sometimes made of deer, the haggis is more often based on sheep. It is a combination of oatmeal and several meats. Normally, the sheep’s “pluck” or offal is removed, including heart, liver, and lungs (or “lights”). This is ground, heavily spiced, and combined with onion, suet, spices, and salt. The oatmeal and the other ingredients are mixed with stock and stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach. This is the haggis, and it is then boiled and served. Of course, in modern times, a real stomach is just as often replaced with an artificial casing, and vegetarian-friendly ingredients may replace meat and offal.
Haggis is often served with “neeps and tatties” A “neep” is swede, or rutabaga, and is shortened from “Swedish turnip.” Tatties are mashed potatoes. Of course, haggis would not be complete without a “dram” of whisky to wash it down, a tradition referred to as “neeps and nips”.
Traditionally, haggis is served at Burns Suppers, on January 25 of each year. That these events, someone recites the “Address to a Haggis.” It is then doused with a shot of Scotch whisky and cut with a dirk, a large knife that is a traditional highland sidearm. Often, the haggis is paraded in with a bagpiper. (more…)
Friday, June 4th, 2010
Sports in the modern age come and go; the Highland Games in Scotland predate written history. They originate from the earliest Clan gatherings, not only for localities to show off their strongest and most athletic young men, but for Clan leaders to get a good look at the talent available for battle. Regarding the first and best of sport in Scotland:
1. The “Haggis Toss” is not a traditional Highland game. Indeed, tossing a haggis about is a criminal waste of food, so flying haggis at true Highland Games is right out.
2. The weight and dimensions of objects used at each Highland Games vary; today, as in the past, real stones and logs are used.
3. The pine logs used in caber tosses from year to year tend to dry out. Many cabers, then, are soaked for a time in water before the games, to attempt to add the lost weight.
4. Highland Dancing is a competition that demands strength, grace, and stamina. Originally, only men danced at the games, but in the late 19th century, Jenny Douglas entered the competition. Today, 95% of all Highland Games dancers are women. (more…)