Scotland is commonly known as the land of kilts, scotch whisky, bagpipes, haggis and the Highlander. Traditional Scottish cuisine centers around its local produce – oats for porridge and oatcake biscuits (bannocks), salted or smoked meat and game. The city of Aberdeen has been known for its cured fish since the 13th Century while the Isle of Skye is famous for having some of the best oysters in the world. For a long time Scotland had suffered from the negative stereotype for dreary food (fried, high in fat and cholesterol), but things have changed now with numerous quality foreign cusines and modern Scottish options on offer. Today chefs in Scotland take the best of their proud Scottish culinary heritage, re-interpreting their grandmothers’ recipes to produce modern and more delectable variations of the old dishes. Scotland is famous for its Aberdeen Angus Beef, succulent Lamb, and delicate summer fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. In recent times, a growing number of specialist farms in the Highlands are producing Venison, and there is an renewed interest in cheese making.
However the definitive and signature dish of Scotland is undoubtedly Haggis. This dish is probably the best known Scottish delicacy and we do use the word delicacy loosely. Rich in flavor, Haggis is one of those dishes that divides people and opinions – you either love it or you hate it. Scotland’s national dish does sound quite unappealing and even disgusting to visitors because of its ingredients. Haggis is made from finely chopped sheep’s offal (pluck)and then mixed with toasted oatmeal and finally sewn into the sheep’s stomach lining and boiled for a further three hours. This delicacy is served with turnips and mashed potatoes (often referred to as Scots words “neeps and tatties”). Interesting fact about this dish, it is traditionally eaten on Burns Night, January 25, when Scotland celebrates the birth of its most famous poet, Robert Burns. During the celebration, Burns’s poems are read, and the haggis is addressed by a member of the party, with verses from Burns’ poem, ‘Address to a Haggis.’ If one is ever in Scotland, this dish is a definite must-try, it can be found in most pubs and restaurants with some places even having a ‘Haggis night’.
The second dish from Scotland…. some regard it as an urban myth, others swear by it. This controversial dish is none otherthan the Deep Fried Mars Bar.
No one can say for certain how this dish come about, rumors out there are that the deep fried Mars Bar is believed to have originated in the northeast Scottish village of Stonehaven in a chippy (chips shop) called Haven Chip Bar, following a bet struck between a chip shop owner and a customer in 1995. From humble and innocent beginnings, this popular dish has threaten to usurp the title of Scotland’s national dish. It is amazing what one can do with a professional deep fat fryer and plenty of imagination. That was probably what the chip shop owner thought when he/she decided to cover a already sinfully tasty chocolate bar with batter (dough commonly used for deep-frying fish and sausages) and stick it in the fryer. The result. The birth of Scotland’s most decadently unhealthy dish. It does make one wonder though, what else can you cover with batter and throw in the fryer? The possibilities are endless.