Archive for the ‘Scottish Cuisine’ Category
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, February 26th, 2010
Whenever we think of Scotland, old castles, lakes and wilderness in general, mixed with endless fields. But there is so much more to the beautiful country than that, things people appreciate less and less these days. Days, when wild, untouched nature is becoming a rarity. But here, in this beautiful part of the world, most of it is still breathtaking and wonderful.
[photo by: foxypar4]
Both flora and fauna of Scotland are typical of the north west European part of the Palearctic ecozone. Aside from the agricultural areas, most of the country is covered in woods, heather moorland and peatland. You can see a lot of native Scots Pine, Silver Birch and Heather, although there is not as much of it as it used to. In near proximity of these tres, you can find beautiful Creeping ladies tresses, which is one of the few British orchids that is almost exclusive to Scotland. If you are looking for more secluded and wild scenery, it is best to go north, where human influence is not as visible as in the rest of Scottish land, especially Western Isles.
[photo by: foxypar4]
Because of the location on the world map, the plants grow differently there. The growing season starts later than in more southern parts of Britain. In the beginning of the year nothing is growing much, with just a few species flowering, but during the months of June, July and August the you can see myriads of flowers blooming all around.
[photo by: left-hand]
[photo by: RATAEDL]
When it comes to wildlife, Scotland also has a lot to offer. It is home to a wonderfully diverse range of species, from the bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth to the capercaillie of the Central Highlands and the thousands of seals and puffins inhabiting the beautiful coastlines. If you want to spy some of rarest specimens, then you’ll have to confine your search: to the wet lochside woods around Fort William for the brightly coloured chequered skipper butterfly; or the north coast of Caithness and Sutherland and Orkney for the Scottish Primrose endemic to the shores.
[photo by: Cayetano]
Of course, when speaking of animals, we shouldn’t forget the one and only Nessie, supposedly habiting the depths of Loch Ness. But that’ of course, is another matter entirely.
Friday, January 15th, 2010
It’s estimated that Glasgow has over 50 nightclubs and 100 bars, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to a great night out! There are venues to suit everyone’s tastes – some of the most popular traditional pubs are the Brel Bar, The Shack and The Shed, to themed bars such as the Bar Jedi which pays homage to George Lucas’s Star Wars movies, and The Cooler, which is a prison themed public house!
For the serious clubber, there are DJ’s playing the latest tunes at Archaos, the Arches, the Sub Club, Yang, Alaska and Media Nightclub to name but a few. Other popular nightclub haunts for the serious reveller include the Garage, The Savoy, Trash, the G2, Tiger-Tiger and the Velvet Rooms. (more…)
Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
The Best traditional Scottish Scones Recipe will produce delicious, large, light scones that melt in the mouth when eaten. The whole of the United Kingdom is famous for its scones, but I still maintain that Scottish cooks produce the best. You will find many different varieties, from plain scones, fruit scones, cherry scones, date scones and savoury cheese scones. You can buy them in Bakers’ Shops and supermarkets everywhere, and I doubt if you will find a coffee shop in the land, which does not have scones on the menu. Restaurants which serve the traditional Scottish ‘High Tea’ will almost always have freshly-baked scones as part of the meal.
Of course in Scotland we also have other ‘scones’ which are totally different, such as the Potato Scone (probably the Scottish equivalent of Hash Browns) which is usually served with a cooked breakfast; and we also have ‘drop scones’, which are made with a batter-like mixture using a griddle (or girdle) but are called Scotch Pancakes. There are other types of scones such as Treacle Scones, Soda Scones, and whole-meal scones. All of these as well as Potato (or Tattie) Scone and the Drop Scone are not what I am describing as a traditional Scottish Scone. (more…)
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
Marmalade is a jam (jelly) made from oranges, traditionally served at breakfast time. The best kind is made from slightly bitter Seville oranges. There are many kinds of traditional marmalades in Britain, but the original is Scottish Dundee Kieller marmalade.
According to the legend Mrs Janet Keiller first made it in Dundee (a major port city at the time) in 1797 when her husband brought a cargo of oranges that were being sold cheaply after a spanish ship was forced to take refuge in the port during a storm. Needing to use up lots of Seville oranges in one go Mrs Keiller decided to make them into a preserve and Keiller Dundee Marmalade was born. (more…)
Saturday, December 12th, 2009
If British recipes are, undeservedly, the joke of European cuisine, then Scottish cookery bears the brunt of British culinary jokes with tales of deep-fried pizzas and chocolate bars. The reality, of course, is very different and the Eastern port cities of Scotland have a long association with France and have been influenced by French cuisine for many centuries.
In contrast, the Highlands of Scotland offer simpler but more traditional fare. The cookery of a poor populace, eking out a living. Here I present two dishes. One a traditional ‘peasant’ dish and the other a rich traditional cake. (more…)
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
Scotland is world-renowned for its high quality shellfish. The clean, clear Scottish waters produce some of the finest mussels, oysters and scallops in the world, prized by the best chefs and home cooks. This renewable food source is farmed in an eco-friendly and sustainable way and is renowned around the world for its flavour and freshness.
Mussels are one of the easiest shellfish to cook, and one of the most delicious. The majority of mussels on the market today are farmed, not wild, the farms being nothing less than giant floating rafts, where mussels attach themselves to ropes under the water. (more…)
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
Just as France has its wine regions, Scotland has its whisky regions. Each one produces whiskies of various qualities which, even to the novice, are noticeable in taste, colour and aroma. Every distillery in Scotland has its own story to tell and peculiar traditions, adding to the romance and mystique of Scotch whisky distilling.
A visit to a whisky distillery is an unforgettable and unique experience, and no matter where you are in Scotland there will be a distillery nearby. A trip round Scotland isn’t possible for everyone, so it helps to be informed about the characteristics of each region’s whisky, and tailor visiting distilleries to individual taste.
The lowland region covers the area from the border with England and from the Clyde estuary to the Tay estuary. The main feature of lowland whiskies is their dry, light flavour and colour, mainly due to the lighter lowland barley and smaller amount of peat used in the barley drying process. Although they are light, they have a sweet, almost fruity taste and make a great aperitif, perfect for the newcomer to Scotch whisky drinking. Notable lowland whiskies are Auchentoshan, Bladnoch, and Glen Kinchie. (more…)
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
- Image by Ibán via Flickr
The bread-making industry has made great strides in Scotland. In Glasgow alone there are two firms which each bake over two thousand bags of flour a week — namely, J. and B. Stevenson and Bilsland Brothers — while five other firms each bake from five hundred to one thousand bags a week in respect to the output, Scotland is a long way in advance of either England or Ireland. I can well remember the time when oatmeal cakes and scones were the staple food in Scotland; but such food is now notable by its absence. This brings to mind a story I once heard of an Englishman and a Scotchman who were arguing on the merits of their respective countries. The Englishman said, “Man Sandy, you are all fed on oatmeal! Why, in England we only feed our horses on oats.” Sandy’s reply was, “I don’t na but what you say, man, is a very true, but where wull ye get sic horses and where wull ye get sic men ?” (more…)