One of the most enjoyable things to do when travelling is to try all the local specialties. Each nation has its traditional dishes that go way back to the beginnings of a nation. Scotland is no different. Everyone’s aware of the fact that some of the best lamb and mutton comes from Scotland, as well as what haggis is. But there is so much more in traditional Scottish cuisine to be explored – for those with a strong stomach and a taste for hearty home meals. The indigenous game and temperate climate, Scotland is a well of delicious dishes; the abundance of seafood, pastures of free grazing lambs and the plenty agricultural lands ensure fresh, home-made goodness. And deep-fried Mars bars.
Being a expatriate now local to Edinburgh, I went digging for some of the most typical Scottish dishes, so here they are – and they are, in their own way, scrumptious!
A buttery, also known as a rowie or Aberdeen roll, is a savoury Scottish bread roll. They are noted for their flaky texture and buttery taste (hence the name). To those who have never experienced one they are probably best described as a flattened, round croissant, with a very salty taste.
Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked Finnan haddock, potatoes and onions. This soup is a local speciality, from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the northeast coast of Scotland. The soup is often served as a starter at formal Scottish dinners.
Sheep’s Head Broth
Also called powsowdie. Best way to dissuade you from even thinking about this traditional Scottish food is to quote part of the recipe. ‘Choose a large, fat, young head. When carefully singed by the blacksmith, soak it and the singed trotters for a night… Take out the glassy part of the eyes… then split the head with a cleaver.‘ Mmm – right? Also, Sheeps’ heads are not skinned in Scotland but singed only and this gives the good flavour to the broth.
Recipes and ingredients vary widely between regions, and even families, but the dish usually consists of tatties (potatoes) and onions and some form of cold meat (especially sausages or leftover roast.) The potatoes are cooked by stewing with fat stove being the old Scots word for stewing. And absolutely heart-warmingly tasty especially on a cold day – comfort food at its best!
Sliced sausage (often known as square sausage, or lorne sausage) is a delicacy which may be pork, beef, or a mixture of the two – is set into a square and sliced into pieces. The sausage is rarely a perfect square given the minced state of the meat, which is often bulked out with other ingredients such as rusk. Especially great for breakfast with a couple eggs and a fresh-from-the-oven roll!
A Scotch pie is a double-crust pie originating in Scotland but also popular in England. The traditional filling is minced mutton, often highly spiced with pepper and other accompaniments such as mashed potatoes, baked beans, brown sauce or gravy, contained in a crust of thin, stiff pastry. An individual piemaker’s precise recipe, including the types and quantities of spice used, is usually kept a close secret, for fear of imitations.
Every year, the Scotch Pie Club holds the World Scotch Pie Championship (entry deadline is November 1, 2013!). Butchers and bakers enter their pies into this competition, and the maker of the pie judged tastiest by a panel of judges is awarded the title of World Scotch Pie Champion!
Another type of meat pastry or pie, with this one originating from the town of Forfar. It is made of minced beef, sometimes with onions and spices, placed on rolled-out pastry and folded into a semi-circular shape; the whole thing is baked in an oven.
Haggis, neeps and tatties
Scotland is famous for its game and salmon, the national dish is haggis and neeps (innards and offal chopped up lungs, liver and heart) mixed with suet, onions, herbs and spices, all packed into a skin bag traditionally made of a sheep’s stomach. Haggis is often served with mashed potatoes and mashed swede or turnips. And don’t forget to serve with some mouth-watering whisky sauce! Traditionally served on Burns Night suppers as the main deal.
Traditional marmalade containing thick chunks of orange rind, this recipe (probably invented by his mother) being a new twist on the already well-known fruit preserve of orange marmalade. On a fresh roll or a rowie, yum!
Rowan berries can be made into a slightly bitter jelly which in Scotland is traditionally eaten as an accompaniment to game, and into jams and other preserves, on their own, or with other fruits. The berries can also be a substitute for coffee beans, and have many uses in alcoholic beverages: to flavour liqueurs and cordials, to produce country wine, and to flavour ale.
Tablet (or taiblet in Scots) is a medium-hard, sugary confection from Scotland. It is made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter, boiled to a soft-ball stage and allowed to crystallize. It is often flavoured with vanilla, and sometimes has nut pieces in it. A bit like fudge, but not fudge.
Oh, and Glasgow is the home of the deep-fried Mars bar.
Is your mouth watering yet? Can’t wait to get your hands on some of that haggis with tatties? Most local restaurants and pubs serve a variation or another, so finding the local delicacies will not be an issue! And before you choose your restaurant, see our special offers for the perfect flat for your stay – all our flats are very central, so after that hearty meal, you can almost roll back to the comfort of your apartment. How about an extra special treat for yourself or someone you wish to indulge, as they deserve? At the Edinburgh Address we also have a fantastic chef available, for that special night in with your mates or your significant other – professional chef Steven Harvey offers a fine dining experience to our guests in their Edinburgh Address apartment. Choose one of our four decadent menu options, and allow yourself to be spoiled
- How to cook and eat a haggis (scottishfoodoverseas.com)
- A taste of the Highlands (theplumpgoose.wordpress.com)