16 Best Traditional Scottish Foods You Must Eat When You’re in Scotland
You can’t really say you’ve been to a country until you’ve eaten with the people who live there, and you can’t say you know Scotland until you’ve tried traditional Scottish food. Some dishes are full of hundreds of years of history and tradition, while others are full of deep-fried batter. Scottish food takes advantage of the country’s coastal waters, moors, and rocky peaks to make dishes that are as memorable as they are tasty. The country’s national firewater, whisky, goes well with hearty classics.
Haggis, turnips, and potatoes.
Sir Robert Burns’ poem “Address to a Haggis” made haggis famous. It is Scotland’s national dish and a great example of traditional Scottish food, nose-to-tail eating, and the “waste not, want not” philosophy. Haggis is traditionally made by boiling together sheep’s “pluck” (finely chopped liver, heart, and lungs), oatmeal, suet, herbs, spices, and seasonings. It is usually served with creamy mashed turnips (called “neeps”) and mashed potatoes (called “tatties”) and a good swig of whisky to help it all go down.
Some might think this has something to do with male incontinence, but it’s actually the Scottish version of French chicken soup. The “Auld Alliance” between Scotland and France goes back hundreds of years, and many of Scotland’s landed gentry have French roots. The result of this cultural mixing is a hearty, peppery chicken broth, thick with rice or barley, scented with leeks and onions, and sometimes (and strangely) topped with prunes.
Cullen skink may sound like something that lives in a swamp and doesn’t have many friends, but it’s actually Scotland’s answer to American chowder and French bisque, though it’s smokier than the former and more filling than the latter. This creamy winter warmer comes from the northeastern town of Cullen. It is traditionally made with smoked haddock from Aberdeenshire called “finnan haddie” that is cured with greenwood from the area, onions (or leeks), and potatoes. Cream is added to the broth for extra calories.
If Highlander liked it, then you should like it too. Even though oat porridge is not unique to Scotland, this simple breakfast dish of oats soaked overnight, boiled with milk or water, and usually served with salt, has been linked to the country for hundreds of years. Archaeological finds on the Outer Hebrides show that Scots have been growing oats for at least 2,500 years.
Oats show up again in one of Scotland’s favorite desserts, which is made with ingredients that can grow well in the rough soil of Scotland. Cranachan is a layered dessert made of toasted oats, fresh raspberries, double cream (or, traditionally, crowdie cheese), honey, and a lot of whisky. It makes you feel as good as a hug from your grandmother.
It’s round and made of flour, suet, dried fruit, sugar, spices, and milk. It’s boiled in a “clootie,” which is a piece of cloth, and after you eat it, it sits in your stomach in a satisfying way. So, if you like fruitcakes and cannonballs, don’t miss the dessert of this brave, hard-working person.
Yes, that is a real word, and no, it’s not the name of that imp from the Brothers Grimm story who turns straw into gold and trades it for the miller’s daughter’s baby. Rumbledethumps is a Scottish dish from the Scottish Borders that is made by sautéing cabbage and onions in butter and mixing them with mashed potatoes. It is a good example of how you can make magic out of leftovers if you try hard enough. As a finishing touch, you sprinkle grated cheddar on top of the mixture and bake it until it’s bubbling and golden brown.
Smokies of Arbroath
Scottish fishermen have always eaten smoked fish, which is great for long trips at sea. The most well-known fish dish in Scotland is Arbroath smokies, which are made from haddock caught off the coast of Arbroath, salted and dried in barrels overnight, and then smoked in a barrel over a hardwood fire. Urban legend says that this famous dish from the northeast coast was made when barrels of salted fish caught fire one night. The result was… very tasty.
The best Scottish biscuit is made with just sugar, butter, and flour. It’s so simple, but it’s also so perfect. Not only is it great for dunking in tea, but it’s also part of an old Scottish tradition where a newlywed woman walks into her new home and has a shortbread cake broken over her head. Hmmm. You might ask, “Why not a man?”
The Scotch Pie
If you happen to be in Scotland for a rugby or football game, you can join the crowd at halftime to get a scotch pie and a cup of hot Bovril. Most butchers have a favorite recipe for scotch pie that they guard with their lives, but you’re most likely to find a tasty double-crust pastry filled with peppered mutton.
Full Scottish Breakfast
If you’ve had a full English breakfast, you’ll know that a full Scottish breakfast also includes bacon, eggs, toast, grilled tomatoes, and baked beans. However, a full Scottish breakfast also includes black pudding or white pudding, potato (tattie) scones, and Lorne sausage, which are all delicious (a square sausage made of meat, rusk and spices). It helps with everything, even hangovers, as long as you don’t plan to do anything active for a few hours afterward.
Deep-fried Mars Bars
The 15-year-old who came up with this deep-fried endorphin rush was looking for something gross to dare his friend to eat. He has never eaten a battered Mars bar. But you can, because many chip shops in Scotland now serve this dish that will give you diabetes all at once. After the oily crunch of the batter, the chocolate hits your mouth with a sharp, sweet punch. If you don’t like Mars bars, most chip shops will deep-fry any sweet you want.
This less-well-known Scottish dish is made with potatoes, is cheap to make, and comes from hard times. It was made to give lumberjacks, miners, and farmers energy after a hard day of work. There are as many ways to make it as there are homes that make it, but basically it is mincemeat and onions mixed with potatoes that have been stewed in dripping (or lard, or butter). Simple, yet satisfying.
Grouse is one of the most popular wild foods in Scotland. They are hunted on the Scottish moors from August to December. One bird is a good size for one hungry person. The taste is light and distinct, like chicken with a gamey taste. You can roast it or make a stew in a casserole.
What is bright orange, slithers down your throat, and tickles it like a lover as it goes? Have a sugar cookie if you guessed Irn-Bru. This soft drink, which is more popular in Scotland than Coca-Cola, is made with 32 secret ingredients, and experts don’t agree on what it tastes like. Some of the things that have been compared to it are bubble gum, rust, cough syrup, salty banana, liquefied casual violence, and heaven. You try, you decide.
You can’t leave Scotland without having a wee dram of whisky, whether it’s peaty and big, woody or creamy, single-malt or blended triple-malt. With more than 130 distilleries all over Scotland’s highlands and islands, many of which are open to tourists, you’re sure to find a drink that suits your tastes. Just don’t drink it “on the rocks” like a country bumpkin. Whisky fans always drink it neat, with maybe a few drops of water to help bring out the unique flavors.
Topic: 16 Best Traditional Scottish Foods You Must Eat When You’re in Scotland
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By: Travel Pixy