In planning our Scotland trip, one question I found puzzling was when people would ask me “what will you eat?”
When I would press for just why were they asking that particular question, I’d always get an answer along the lines of “they eat weird stuff over there”. That’s why I decided to try everything I could that was different from the normal (even semi-normal) American diet.
But different was often only a slight change in how we eat it over here in the US.
First, and most famously (and probably the reason for the “what will you eat” question), is the haggis. Pronounced HAG (rhymes with nag) gis. OK folks… haggis is sausage. Plain and simple. Do you eat a McRib sandwich? Same ingredients! Like any sausage, each recipe is different but they were all good… to fantastic. I had it every chance I had!
Black Pudding: also known as blood sausage. Yep… blood mixed with oatmeal, made into a sausage. Fried or grilled. There was a much greater range of what I considered “good” with these. Some had a pretty heavy duty ‘iron’ taste, which I didn’t care for. Others – definitely the famous “Stornoway” variety – were well seasoned and quite tasty.
Winkles: The little sea snails I have already talked about them in my story about the Three Chimneys restaurant. Nothing wrong with them, just seemed like a lot of work for a tiny nibble.
Kippers or Smoked mackerel: I didn’t find this strange at all, tho some have. It’s just a tasty little smoked fish. Quite good. It’s popular at breakfast… which I didn’t like as I found it a bit strong flavored that early in the morning.
Tablet: It’s a candy very similar to the praline candy (without the pecans). Delicious and very, very sweet. (The little cubes in the middle of the plate in the above photo).
Scotch Egg: A boiled egg wrapped in a meat mix, and then deep fried. Best I had was at the Smoo Cave Hotel where the meat was haggis. I’ve made them using regular sausage. The little mounds next to the egg are ‘Neeps and Tatties” (mashed turnips and potatoes).
Rhubarb Rock: hard candy in rhubarb flavor. Kind of like a ‘SweetTart’ in candy stick form.
Marmite: A yeast spread used toast. Think a beef bouillon cube with enough water mixed in to make a paste. Very strong flavored and salty. (The Australian cousin is Vegemite – which is somewhat weaker in strength and less salty.) I tried both and was not overly impressed. The saltiness is what got to me (I don’t eat a lot of salt and even potato chips are somewhat overwhelming now).
Rumbledethumps: It is a casserole of mashed and mixed potatoes and turnips, with cooked cabbage mixed in. Baked with cheese on top, it ‘rumbles’ as it cooks. Very good!
Mushy Peas: Think the green version of refried beans. Dried green peas, soaked, cooked and mashed. Commonly eaten with fish and chips.
Cullen Skink: A smoked fish soup. Not strange at all… a really good fish chowder.
Bridie: A basic meat turnover. Lightly seasoned.
Scotch Pie: A very meaty ‘pot pie’. I was told they are usually lamb/mutton, tho beef is very popular. I had lamb and it was very spicy. And very good!
Fried Bread: Just that, buttered bread fried in a pan. Crispy, buttery, wonderful. This treat we now do at home.
Porridge: The best cooked oats I’ve had… especially the ones that needed to be soaked overnight.
“Whisky Porridge” was offered at a few places we ate.
Clootie Dumpling: A dessert, kind of like a bread pudding that is steamed instead of baked as it is here.
Treacle: A syrup… think a mild molasses.
Cranachan: Sort of a mini trifle. Oats are soaked in whisky overnight, mixed with whipped cream and honey. Berries are at the bottom of the bowl and the cream mix is spooned over. Himself said it was very good.
I had a lot of game meats… venison,
Local cheeses were wonderful. Very flavorful.
All in all, I had some of the best food ever in Scotland. Some was simple, some was quite creative… but not weird, not bland… just good.