Like England, food in Scotland today is an eclectic mix of many cultures – English, Scandinavian (via the Vikings) Italian, Indian and Chinese. In Scotland, the Scots hold on tightly to their culinary heritage still using local, seasonal foods when available.
Scottish cuisine, to this day, remains simple in its preparation and presentation.
“S mairg a ni tarcuis air biadh”
(He who has contempt for food is a fool!)
As a cook of many years standing this attitude of the Scots toward food and cooking ‘warms the cockles of the heart’. I mean, the fact that the Scots accept haggis, a combination of sheep’s intestines, oatmeal and whiskey blended together and cooked in a sheep’s stomach, as their National Dish displays a degree of fortitude and endurance that epitomises the race as a whole! Add to that the production of the majority of the finest malt whisky’s in the world and one may begin to understand the traditional Scotsmans attitude to life, the Universe and everything!
Oats are still widely eaten, as is fish, game, and of course beef. Scottish soft fruits such as raspberries and strawberries, are renowned throughout the UK as are Scottish cheeses, fruits and vegetables likewise.
The Scottish kitchen is an abundance of soups and broths including Cock-a-Leekie, Scotch Broth, Cullen Skink (a soup from Cullen on the shores of the Moray Firth usually made with Finnan Haddock) and Brose, a simple soup of Kale, with a handful of oatmeal.
Fish is a staple of Scotland coming from the lochs, streams, river and magnificent coastline. Fish and seafood are plentiful and Scottish salmon (smoked and fresh) is world-renowned as are Arbroath Smokies (small smoked haddock).
The Scottish table will have meats a-plenty. Beef, game (particularly venison and game birds) not forgetting of course the national dish, haggis, which was famous enough for the Scots poet Robbie Burns to pen an ode.
And also not forgetting Forfar Bridies, a pasty not dissimilar to a Cornish Pasty. Scotland is celebrated for its baking and puddings.
The Clootie Dumpling, not unlike an English suet pudding is, along with Scottish shortbread as legendary as oatcakes and pancakes.
The Scots have learned over the years to make best use of the offerings nature has endowed them with from the wild and rugged mountains, the lakes, lochs and streams, to the fertile valleys and moorlands.
Despite folk legend, the climate of Scotland is relatively normal in southern and central parts, although the highlands and islands can be subject to some pretty awesome winters.