When thinking about Scotland’s traditional dishes, haggis and single malt whisky come to mind. But Scotland has a far more extensive selection of cuisine to be enjoyed which we explore here.
The subject of food in Scotland is always going to turn to haggis at some point, so let’s start there. Before we discuss the details, rest assured that haggis is a delightfully tasty dish and is normally served with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). It looks a little like some kind of innocuous, minced meat and has a savoury, peppery flavour.
As a tradition, the country eats this dish every Burns Night on the 25th of January in honour of Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Alas it is the ingredients and preparation of haggis that have given it a bad name. It is made up of a sheep’s offal, which is then mixed with oats, suet and spices. You will quite often come across haggis in a bag ready for boiling which traditionally was made from the sheep’s stomach. As graphic and gruesome as that sounds, if you are a meat eater, then do try it. As Colman Andrews from The Daily Meal says*
“All the myth and lore about its fearsomeness is just a lot of tripe.”
Breakfast Time In Scotland
All over the world, people are familiar with the classic English breakfast, but in Scotland, they go bigger and fuller with their breakfasts. In addition to baked beans, eggs, mushrooms, and bacon, the dish is served with a mountain of Scottish treats.
Lorne sausage, otherwise known as square sausage, is one of the prime features of a hearty Scottish breakfast and is either beef, pork or a mixture of both. Haggis can also be found on a breakfast as can standard link sausages. To soak up all of the juices, the good old tattie scone (potato scone) is thrown into the mix. These tasty yet simple savoury scones are made from potato and resemble the look of a pancake.
Leaving the bread behind, the clootie dumpling is often put in its place, which brings a sweetened touch to the breakfast thanks to its raisins, cinnamon and ginger ingredients. The clootie dumpling isn’t always eaten for breakfast, some Scots prefer to have it as a dessert with a spot of cream or custard.
On top of all of that breakfast wonder, you have the puddings to choose from – not desserts by any means. Black pudding is a type of blood sausage whereas white pudding is also made from meat, suet and bread, but without the blood. Fruit pudding, on the other hand, is another dose of sweetness, made from oatmeal, brown sugar, sultanas and cinnamon.
Whenever you feel a bit peckish in Scotland, you are generally spoilt for choice. A meaty pastry like the birdie or scotch pie is widely available as are the buttery rolls known as the Aberdeen Rowie. Of course, there is always a Scotch egg to be found as well. On cold days a big bowl of Scotch broth soup is perfect for warming up your insides.
For a smaller dose of haggis, Balmoral chicken (chicken stuffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon) is perfect and can be served with a rich whisky sauce.
Just as tatties are at the core of most Scottish dishes, the same goes for stovies. This dish typically includes potatoes, meat (traditionally sausage), onions and seasoning that are cooked like a stew. The recipe is pretty versatile as it was traditionally thought of as a way of using leftover food.
Cullen skink is considered a more formal dish that is a thick smoked haddock soup, which is again, perfect for warming your bones.
Pleasing Your Sweet Tooth In Scotland
Scotland’s traditional dishes cater to all appetites and desires. When you need a sugar fix the creators of shortbread more than deliver. The delicious and straightforward cranachan dessert is a national favourite and combines fresh raspberries, cream and oats. Another fruit cake like delicacy is the black bun – a traditional loaf style dessert that is very popular around the time of Hogmanay consisting of black treacle, raisins, currents, and of course, spices.
Dating all the way back to the 1800s, the classic Dundee cake has remained a firm favourite among the scots. For those looking for a sugar overload then the likes of tablet, macaroon, and the battered Mars Bar will probably be more up your street.
Part of Scotland’s rich culture is their local dishes that are still widely enjoyed across the nation. On your next visit be sure to try as many traditional Scottish dishes as possible, they will surely not disappoint.