First in my series of Scottish Heritage guest posts, is my friend Denise from The Time Travelling Cook! Denise is one of my go to people for "everyday life" questions about Scottish history. Here she tells us a little about food in Scottish History. Take it away Denise!
Only the Scots could think of taking the lung and heart of a sheep, mix it with oats and spices and then stuff it into a sheep stomach and make it the National Dish!
However Scottish food isn’t just about using up leftovers but making the best of the sometimes sparse, at times bountiful, but always diverse, ingredients found throughout the Hills, Glens and Rivers of this wonderful country.
Wheat doesn’t grow in Scotland particularly well but Oats and Barley do. Have a look through any traditional Scottish cookbook and you will find a plethora of recipes that use Oats and Barley as the main component of the dish. From the filling porridge oats to delicate Cranachan, from Oatcakes to hearty Scotch Broth the Scots learned to use what they had to great effect.
Fish has always played an important part in Scottish food, many recipes and ways of cooking fish can be found in the earliest Scottish cookbooks. There are so many types of fish available in Scottish waters that most of this blog could be taken up with listing them along with the available shellfish! Each region would typically have its favourite way of preparing the fish with influences coming from available resources and traditions.
Smoking is a very common way to preserve fish in Scotland. Ingredients and methods are similar but with slight differences depending on area. Kippers are herrings smoked over Oak Chips, Finnan Haddie is haddock smoked over green wood and Peat, a method traditionally found in North East Scotland and Arbroath Smokies are from, funnily enough, Arbroath, where a lot of its inhabitants descend from Scandinavians, so the smokies are highly salted and dried first before smoking.
But it’s not all Haggis, Grains and Fish here in Scotland.
Mutton, Beef, Pork and Poultry along with Game all play their part in Scottish Food. Mutton ground with added spices, make the filling for our ever popular Scotch Pie. Scotch Pie recipes can be found going back some 500 years so maybe they should take the place of second national dish? Aberdeen Angus Beef is world famous for its taste and texture and has been recorded as a breed in the North East of Scotland as far back as the 1600s. Smoked pork sausages, this time using the sheep intestines, could be found hanging above the fires of many a Pict home, and is still a firm favourite as part of a full Scottish Sunday breakfast.
Cock-a-leekie soup obviously deserves a mention as it ranks alongside Scotch Broth as one of the nation’s favourite soups. Up until the middle of the 1700s most domestic chickens were actually quite scrawny so would be mostly eaten in soups as it made the meat go further. Add leek (which grow very easily in Scotland) and you have a classic combination.
The Scots learned to live in a beautiful but sometimes harsh landscape and use everything that was available. That necessity has led to some of our most favourite dishes being world famous.
From the Haggis to Black Pudding, Tattie Scones to Cullen Skink, show us Scots a box of questionable ingredients and we’ll show you a slap up meal!
Thanks Denise! To see more of their gorgeous photos, follow along and learn more about The Time Travelling Cook :
If you would like to be featured or would like to suggest someone else, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org :)