Admittedly, most people do not think of Scottish Cuisine as a “must-have”. If you think of Scotland about anything to do with food and drink, it’s likely to be about the whisky.
But the traditional foods in Scotland are not only unique, but they really do taste good. And in some cases, the names are pretty funny. Here is a list of some of these noteworthy foods.
By the way, if anyone from England is reading this post, and you want to make fun of it, just be aware that I can also start talking about the ingredients of a typical English breakfast – including the beans and Black Pudding.
Okay, to start with one of the most obvious things for Scotland, it would have to be Scotch. One item of note here, when you go to Scotland, don’t ask for “Scotch”. Ask for “Whisky”. And also note that in Scotland, “Whisky” is not spelled with an “e”.
Two things to note about Scotch Whisky. First, in order to be called “Whisky”, it has to age at least three years and one day. Compare this Irish Whiskey (note the “e”), which only has to be aged for 3 years. The Scots are definitely going to make sure that they set a higher standard than the Irish.
The other thing to note is that there are over 140 distilleries in Scotland, and while I have not sampled all of them (my liver thanks me), they will definitely have different tastes. This has to do with their location, the techniques used during the distillation process, and the type of barrel used. In the display here, taken at the Glengoyne distillery, you can see the effects of different types of barrels and the level of evaporation over time. Each bottle in each display represents one year of aging.
Haggis is probably the best known Scottish dish – and the most reviled.
Some will tell you that the Haggis is a small, furry animal, living on the heath in the Highlands. In fact, they will tell you that “Haggis” is plural for “Haggi”. The Haggis live in the mountains, in the wild. The legs on one side of their body are shorter than the other because they run around the mountain instead of up and down.
Scotland typically has 6 million sheep – and only 5 million people. That is an interesting point, but definitely for another post.
Anyway, Haggis is made by taking sheep organs (lungs, heart, etc) grinding them up and mixing it with grains. The mixture is then sown into the stomach of a sheep and then boiled.
Before you turn away from this post, be aware that this is a very revered national dish. In fact, when we went to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, we had dinner there, which included Haggis. The dinner included a very solemn ceremony with the “Presentation of the Haggis” complete with bagpipes. I will have to say, I found the Haggis to be very tasty.
The cover photo on this post shows a cooked Haggis.
In order to try Haggis, you have to go to Scotland. For some reason, the FDA won’t allow it in the US.
Tatties and Neeps
Often served with Haggis are “Tatties and Neeps”. These are mashed potatoes and turnips, and are also shown in the cover picture for this post.
These dishes are also quite tasty. The image for this post shows what is the traditional meal for Robert Burns night. It shows Haggis, Tatties (potatoes) and Whisky. The turnips for some reason were left out of this picture.
Okay, first of all, all of you out there with the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy, cut it out.
As you might be able to decipher, the soup is made from Chicken and Leeks. Thus the name “Cock-A-Leekie”. The particular serving you see here includes prunes.
So, we have talked about Sheep and Chicken, now we move on to beef. This is a Scotch Pie, and is a pie with a meat filling. It is a pretty simple recipe with a crust filled with meat and then baked. You can sort of relate it to a pot pie. In some cases, the filling is sheep instead of beef.
Another popular dish is Scotch Eggs. These are made by making a soft-boiled egg, and encasing it with sausage (or Haggis!), rolling it in bread crumbs, and then deep frying it.
No, this has nothing to do with lizards. Scotland is surrounded on 3 sides by water, so it is not surprising that seafood is a popular food in Scotland. Cullen Skink is essentially a seafood stew, normally made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions.
The term “Skink” in Gaelic has come to mean “soup”. The term “Cullen” refers to the town of Cullen. So, this is a seafood soup from the town of Cullen.
You can think of this like a Bouillabaise, just more fun to say.
So, we have had a bit of fun with this post, but I think you can say the same thing about most cultures. I can tell you stories about my encounters with Japanese food.
When you go to a different country, you owe it to yourself to try the local foods!