8 Foods to Try in Scotland

Full Scottish Breakfast

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By Darren Crocker, From First to Last

Scottish cuisine. What’s not to like?

Who needs al fresco dining when you can skip lunch, head to the pub, stagger home at 3am with a lasagne pie – that’s a lasagne in a pie folks and yes, it does exist – and share your chips with seagulls the size of eagles?  Besides, catching that one day of sunshine a year when you can actually sit outside, is never guaranteed.

Being Scottish myself, I feel obliged to add before I compile this list that trying all eight within a short period of time may result in you needing a place to lie down or at worse, an ambulance.

Joking aside, (no promises) Scotland boasts some of the finest natural produce that is respected worldwide: famed for our high quality seafood and meat, we are a small country that packs a large culinary punch. We have plenty to be proud of but of course, generally, with high quality comes a high price tag. So with that being said, you won’t be breaking the bank with these eats, but you may end up breaking your diet.

Going to Scotland? We’ve got cheap Edinburgh hotels and youth hostels starting from €9.46pppn @ Light House Hostel.

1. Haggis

Haggis

To answer a common question, haggis traditionally consists of sheep’s liver, heart and lung minced with suet (fat), onion, oats and spices and encased in sausage casing (sheep stomach originally) for cooking. Sound good? No? I totally get where you’re coming from but trust me, haggis is delicious. Readily available in most pubs, butchers and supermarkets and commonly served with mashed potato (tatties) and neeps (turnip) there is nothing flashy about our national dish. Good, honest, food that will guarantee to leave you satisfied. Who needs finesse anyway?

2. Stovies

Stovies beetroot oatcake

There are two places you are likely to find stovies in Scotland: A working man’s pub; And a late night bakery. Simple in its execution – potatoes, beef, onions, butter/fat and stock confined to one pan – stovies should be served with oatcakes and beetroot. Winter food at its best and my personal favourite.

3. Full Scottish Breakfast

Full Scottish Breakfast

Pic: Word of Mouth Cafe, Leith

Said to cure even the worst of hangovers, (still to be proven on me) a full breakfast is somewhat of a Sunday morning ritual for bleary eyed party goers, early and late risers alike – many cafés will even offer breakfast all day. What exactly a breakfast consists of is open to debate but generally you can expect: Bacon, egg, sausage, beans, black pudding, (which I’ll get to later) tattie scone, tomato, mushrooms and toast, all washed down with a pot of tea or coffee and orange juice. You know, for vitamin C. Oh, and a newspaper is essential.

4. Cullen Skink

Cullen Skink

Representing soups – and fish (shout out to Arbroath Smokies) – Cullen skink consists of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions and is a local speciality of the town of Cullen in the North-East, however, you will find it on many Scottish menus nationwide. This soup is seriously tasty and although quite heavy – depending on the cream, butter and milk content – you will find yourself wanting more. Fresh, toasted bread is not optional – it’s mandatory.

5. Pudding

Pudding

Walk into any take away chip shop – commonly referred to as ‘chippy’ or ‘chipper’ – and you will see rows of prepared food from steak pies to pizza to the ever popular fish and chips – by and large referred to as a ‘fish supper’. And of course, most places would happily make a battered Mars bar for you.

As an alternative, why not try a pudding? – not to be confused as something sweet as in Scotland we also call dessert ‘pudding.’

Made primarily of blood, varied meat and oatmeal, black pudding is common in Scotland with Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis being particularly famous for having fantastic and good quality pudding. You will also likely find white pudding – without blood – ready to take away as well as red pudding which is similar to black but less common.

6. Cranachan

Cranachan

Ever present on the dessert menu of many Scottish hotels, Cranachan is a crowd pleaser: Cream; honey; whisky-soaked oats and raspberries. I don’t know about you, but add a coffee on the side and I’m pretty much sold. One of your five a day as well. Done deal.

7. Rowies

Rowies

Common throughout the North-East of Scotland, it is said rowies were originally created for sailors going on long journeys out to sea; The high fat content was designed to keep the rowie – also known as a ‘buttery’ – from going stale. Consisting primarily of flour, salt, lard, oil/butter and usually spread with jam, you may need to  work a bit harder on the treadmill after a morning rowie. Think of a flat croissant but forget the flat stomach.

8. Curry

Curry from Skye, Scotland

Traditional Scottish dishes aside, foreign cuisine is just as much a part of Scotland’s identity. With a multi-cultural country comes multi-cultural food; from Polish to Turkish, Scotland boasts a healthy and diverse café/restaurant scene.

Glasgow in particular is famous for a great curry serving up regional classics as well as crossing over to the likes of a haggis pakora. There is some serious quality to be found and at competitive prices so hunting down a good curry house is a must in Scotland. Being that curry is one the nations favourite, you won’t be searching for too long.

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Images c. Darren Crocker, plus eisaru, chatirygirl, noii’s, colinjcampbell and chatirygirl. Please note, Flickr images were held under the Creative Commons licence at the time of publication.

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