While traversing the Scottish lands, there are a number of specialities and traditional fare that are worth stuffing in your bagpipe (or mouth).
Don’t be frightened by the mention of ground sheep’s innards porridge stuffed into a sheep’s stomach, think about all that protein! Absolutely not worth it, but being vegetarian its hardly a desirable destination for the taste buds.
But on that note, I must say vegetarian haggis (yes it’s true) served with neeps (parsnip) and (tatties) topped off with a vegetable gravy is a dish I highly recommend. After a days walk along the West Highland Way – to flop onto a creaking wooden chair at the The Drover’s Inn (a 300 year old pub full of stuffed animals, bartenders in kilts, drunken live music and years of hauntings), and dig into a hot mound of haggis was an absolute treat and I almost felt Scottish enough to down a bottle of whisky and do a jig on the bar. But alas the quota of haggis fuelled jiggers in this country is full (not an actual statistic but I might start a tally and let you know).
While the high numbers of sheep kept a long line of Scots alive, there was a variety of delicious inventions taking shape.
To celebrate, I’ve drawn you a guide to the Scots cuisine, where potatoes are kings and oats are thrown around like confetti.
Apart from the traditional recipes there’s also a lot happening in the way of local cheeses, honey, preserves, meats, fish and more recently, coffee and good breads. It’s very much worth researching the areas you’ll be travelling through to find what that region is famed for. (If you like smoked haddock in barrels guarded by crinkly fishermen with blackened hands then head to Arbroath, you won’t regret it – unless you don’t like smelling like you’ve been having a ciggy out the back with a bunch of old fish, buy who doesn’t like that?)
And for those who like a little confidence to kick out a Highland jig mid-meal; besides an abundance of liquor distilleries there’s also been a big increase in microbreweries producing some quality craft beers. the Drinking Mans Guide to Scotland has a pretty succinct list.
And for an excellent read about the world of UK microbreweries and beyond, we discovered Ferment Magazine while in Edinburgh, a real goody.
On this chart I’ve included some of the most distinguishably Scottish additions to the world plate plus a dram of whisky.
When you’re in Scotland (go on, just book a ticket, think of all that fresh air under yer kilted buttocks), embrace what these brilliant people have to offer, think of all the brave-hearts through their history, they must be eating something right.
And if you’re vegetarian I really do recommend the nutty, oaty, veggie haggis, just order it under your breath and in code if possible to avoid the bar falling silent as all look upon you and your clan with unfathomable disgust.