In the course of writing up the National stuff I have probably spent more time on the cuisine of Scotland than that of England, N. Ireland and Wales put together!
But then, why not? Kathleen Mackay Robertson was a native of the ancient county of Fife, to the East of Edinburgh. Despite it’s reputation as a cold and desolate place where it rains all Summer and snows all Winter, Scotland is actually an unspoilt environment whose climate, without those exaggerated extremes, provides the ideal conditions to produce superb, high quality foods.
Whether for the more traditional dishes, such as haggis, neeps and tatties or Arbroath Smokies to the more worldly modern fare, Scotch beef, lamb, game and fish are considered among the best in the world.
These pages are from the same volume that is giving me the material for the English/Welsh counties series but include a fair number of classic Scottish foods. Some I will have visited before, some will be new.
Not that there is anything new in cooking. It’s the same scenario as the thousand monkeys and the thousand typewriters : given infinite time and impetus those monkeys will produce the complete works of Shakespeare!
How can a recipe of some five or six ingredients be ‘copyrighted’ when some billion people around the world have access to those same ingredients at the same time and at least two of them can/will produce the same dish? Either by luck or judgement there can be no such thing as an ‘original’ recipe’
I have done it myself, in the days when I had three or four apprentices, in the same place at the same time, and gave them all the same ingredients to produce a sample dish the only real differences would be in the presentation.
Their influences would have been me, their college lecturer, their contemporaries and their family culture.
I believe that the historical aspect is vital. Many of the recipes I publish here have deep cultural roots and although they may not produce a perfect product, a little knowledge, experimentation and a judicious use of modern commodities can improve on an original!
In my own experience, teaching cooking has nothing to do with the recipe, the ingredients or even knowing how to light the oven : It is the feel, the nous, the instinct! Feet of clay do not automatically mean hands and brains of clay too!