is a food producing country. Nature may not have been lavish
with the larger fruits, but it is to our climate (maligned wrongly
though it be) that we owe the delectable flavour of our Aberdeen-Angus
beef, our mutton from the braes, our game (especially the unrivalled
grouse from our moors), our salmon so rich of curd and flavour,
our silver darlings the herring, our oats and potatoes, our
heather honey and our berry fruits.
is traditionally simple, but it has some distinguished dishes
of long pedigree. Cookery, being an art, should hold its place
in the national culture. After all, the fate of a nation depends
greatly on how its people are fed.
always been differences between Scottish and English cooking.
The difference might be symbolised by the kitchen utensils.
In Scotland these are traditionally the kailpot and the girdle;
in England the frying pan and the oven. In Scotland (as in France)
we have always gone in for braising and stewing. In England
it is frying and roasting.
our traditional bread was the girdle-baked oatmeal bannock.
In England it was the wheaten loaf. We have always eaten plenty
of fish. In England they use more butcher-meat.
At one time,
in every cottage and farm in our part of the country, the kail-pot
was on daily duty. The English rustic, on the other hand, seldom
tasted soup, but he liked his pudding.
have always been popular in Scotland, and many of our native
soups are admirable. For example, there is Hairst Bree (harvest
broth), Cock-a-leekie (the name explains itself), Bawd Bree
(Hare Soup), Parton Bree (with crabs, rice and cream), Powsoudie
(Sheep’s head broth) and Skink (a beef or fish soup).
found endless uses for oatmeal. It was used for porridge, gruel,
mealie-puddings, stuffing, haggis, as thickening for soups and
so on. Such good things as Dundee cake and shortbread are known
all over the globe, and the world’s breakfast would be
the poorer without Arbroath “smokies” (which, to
be accurate, originated in Auchmithie) and Dundee marmalade.
finely flavoured seaweed, used to be gathered along with “buckies”
on the rocks at low-tide At one time it sold well in the towns
of Tayside, and was eaten both raw and cooked.
In the glens,
venison was usually braised or stewed, but sometimes made into
scallops, pasties or patties. This was savoury eating, with
the astringent flavour of rowan jelly added as its right complement.
curly greens, grown in every farm and cottar garden, were usually
boiled with a fleshy bone, then mashed till smooth with a hoggin
of cream, a lump of butter and a good sprinkle of freshly ground
black spice. This was something to remember, and the bree made
this brose, the oatmeal, salt and pepper-along with a good lump
of butter were put in a bowl or cappie, and stood on the warm
hearth or hob. Then the boiling bree was added, stirred a little
and set in a warm place to swell-just the very thing after hard
work in cold weather.
a par with kale-brose were neep-brose, beef-brose, and just
plain brose. Rumledethump was a “fluff” made by
beating boiled potatoes and turnips with a good measure of cream
and some white pepper. Of cheeses, crowdie was soft and white,
while kebbocks were often flavoured with carvies (carroway seeds),
and eaten with oaten bannocks.
made from the sids of the meal after the milling. They were
sourish to taste, and usually eaten with syrup, either supped
rolls varied, there were safties, butteries, flouries, baps
and so on. In Arbroath they still ask for liffies, and this
may well be another relic of the Franco-Scottish Alliance, deriving
from se lever, to rise.
were those delectable heckle-biscuits, rich in butter and pricked
all over; thin, square, ginger and treacle parleys or parliaments,
and paste biscuits which were rounds of puff pastry glazed with
sugar and enriched with currants.
subject, but one I cannot pursue further here. “The Scots
Kitchen,” by F.
Marian McNeill, is a book I recommend to those wishing to
delve into the matter further.