Scottish cuisine

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Scottish cuisine shares much with British cuisine but has distinctive attributes and recipes of its own, thanks to foreign and local influences both ancient and modern. Traditional dishes exist alongside international foods brought by immigration and a Scottish public eager to try new dishes.

The "hearty" nature of many traditional dishes, rich in fats and meats, contributes to the high rates of heart disease and obesity in Scotland. While greater importance has been placed on the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, many Scots, particularly those of low incomes, continue to have extremely poor diets, a contributing factor to the high mortality rate from coronary conditions.<ref>David Eyre. "Scotland: Heart of the matter", BBC News Online, 2004-04-30</ref>

Despite this, Scottish cuisine is enjoying a renaissance, with nine Michelin starred restaurants operating in the country in 2006, serving traditional or fusion Scottish cuisine made with local ingredients. In most towns, Chinese and Indian take-away restaurants exist side-by-side with traditional fish and chip shops; larger towns and cities offer cuisine ranging from Thai and Japanese to Mexican.


[edit] History

Scotland, with its temperate climate and abundance of indigenous game species, has provided a cornucopia of food for its inhabitants for millennia. The wealth of seafood available on and off the coasts provided the earliest settlers with their sustenance. Agriculture was introduced, with primitive oats quickly becoming the staple.

In common with many mediæval European neighbours, Scotland was a feudal state for a greater part of the second millennium. This put certain restrictions on what one was allowed to hunt, therefore to eat. In the halls of the great men of the realm, one could expect venison, boar, various fowl and songbirds, expensive spices (pepper, cloves, cinnamon &c.), as well as the meats of domesticated species. From the Journeyman down to the lowest cottar, meat was an expensive commodity, and would be consumed rarely. For the lower echelons of Mediæval Scots, it was the products of their animals rather than the beasts themselves which provided nourishment. This is evident today in traditional Scots fayre, with its emphasis on dairy produce. It would appear that the average meal would consist of a pottage of herbs and roots, (and when available some meat or stock for flavouring) bread and cheese when possible.

Before Sir Walter Raleigh's introduction of the potato to the British Isles, the Scots' main sources of carbohydrate was gained from bread made from oats or barley. Wheat was generally difficult to grow because of the damp climate. Food thrift was evident from the earliest times, with excavated middens displaying little evidence of anything but the toughest bones. All parts of an animal were used.

The mobile nature of Scots society in the past required food that would not spoil quickly. It was common to carry a small bag of oatmeal that could be transformed into a basic porridge or oatcakes using a Girdle. It is theorised that Scotland's national dish, Haggis, originated in a similar way: A small amount of offal or low-quality meat, carried in the most inexpensive bag available, a sheep or pig's stomach. It has also been suggested that this dish was introduced by Norse invaders who were attempting to preserve their food during the long journey from Scandinavia.<ref> MacSweens of Edinburgh-"Haggis History"., (accessed 23 October 2006)</ref>

During the Late Middle Ages, and the Early Modern Period, the cuisine of France started to play a role in Scottish cookery due to the cultural exchanges brought by the "Auld Alliance"<ref>Gail Kilgore - "The Auld Alliance and its Influence on Scottish Cuisine" (accessed 29 July 2006)</ref>. and especially during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary, on her return to Scotland brought an entourage of French staff who are considered responsible for revolutionising Scots cooking and for some of Scotland's unique food terminology. This influence continued until the downfall of Jacobitism and the defeat at Culloden, when Scotland came into the cultural sphere of England, and the faculties of continental gastronomy were out of bounds.

[edit] French derived cooking terms

"Ashet", a large platter - Assiette
"Cannel", Cinnamon - Cannelle
"Gigot" of Mutton - Gigot
"Howtowdie", a boiling fowl -Old French, Hétoudeau

With the advent of the Sporting estate and enclosure in the eighteenth century, harvesting Scotland's larder became an industry. The railways further expanded the scope of the market, with Scots' Grouse at a premium (as today), on English Metropolitan menus shortly after the 12th of August.

[edit] 20th and 21st centuries

Scotland, in common with the other parts of the British Isles suffered during the twentieth century. Rationing during the conflicts that affected that period, and large scale industrial agriculture limited the diversity of food available to the public. During the latter part of the century, the greater part of our 'quality' produce was exported, and inferior imported. The fruits of Scotland's seas gracing European restaurants, whilst children in Glasgow were eating processed American Fish fingers[citation needed]. Scotland suffered under the UK wide BSE and Foot and Mouth legislation, when it was hardly affected. One result of this however, is that Scots' meat is now considered one of the safest on the planet as a result of the stringent controls in place[citation needed].

Recently there seems to be a resurgence in traditional restaurants, gastro-pubs are abounding, and farmer's markets increasing their scope, not to mention the influence New Scots have had on the national palate.

During the 19/20th c. there was large scale immigration to Scotland from Italy, and later from the Middle East, Pakistan and India. These cultures have impacted on Scots cooking in a massive way. The Italians reintroduced the standard of fresh produce, and the later comers introduced spice. An urban myth maybe, but it is alleged that the Chicken Tikka Massala curry was invented in Glasgow.

[edit] Traditional Scottish Specialities

[edit] Soups

Cullen Skink
Bawd bree
Cock-a-leekie soup
Game soup
Hairst Bree orHotch potch
Partan bree
Scotch broth

[edit] Seafood

Arbroath smokies
Cabbie claw (Cabelew)
Crappit heid
Eyemouth pales
Finnan haddie
Smoked salmon

[edit] Meat, Poultry and Game

Ayrshire bacon
Black pudding
Forfar Bridie
Howtowdie with Drappit eggs
Mince, neeps and tatties
Mutton ham
Potted Hough
Roast Aberdeen Angus beef
Roast Haunch of Red Deer
Roast Woodcock/Snipe
Solan goose
Scotch pie
Scotch egg
Square sausage

[edit] Vegetables

Tattie scones

[edit] Fruits


[edit] Dairy and Cheese

Bishop Kennedy
Ayrshire Dunlop
Isle of Mull Cheddar
Lanark Blue
Loch Arthur

[edit] Cakes, Breads, Puddings and Confectioneries

Abernethy biscuits
Berwick cockles
Black bun
Blaeberry pie
Carrageen Moss
Clootie Dumpling
Dundee cake
Edinburgh rock
Hawick balls
Moffat toffee
Petticoat tails
Selkirk Bannock
Soor plooms

[edit] Condiments

Rowan jelly
Spiced plums

[edit] Scottish beverages

[edit] Alcoholic

90 shilling ale
80 shilling ale
70 shilling ale
India Pale ale
(see- Scottish beer)
Atholl Brose
Het pint

[edit] Non Alcoholic

Irn Bru

[edit] Fast food

Scotland's unhealthy reputation is partially a product of the wide consumption of fast food. Fish and chip shops remain extremely popular; they have been joined in more recent years by outlets selling kebabs and pakora. Most dishes are deep-fried.

[edit] Notes and references

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