The scottish kitchen is not one of the most famous cuisines in the world.
In fact, not many people outside Scotland can describe what the scottish kitchen stands for. English food has a
much more familiar ring to it, though generally considered to be of poor quality in taste as well as in nutritrive value.
At a glance, thereīs no bigger distinction between scottish and english menus.
The same more or less fatty chips are served with all kinds of food. Pizza, lasagne or steak casserole with rice;
nothing is deemed complete if you donīt have a plate of chips on the side. Fish and chips is a staple, just like
steak and kidney pie and shepherdīs pie. Scotlandīs staple drink, like Englandīs, is tea. The coffee, by the way,
is not nearly as bad as people always claim.
After a while you tend to notice a slight difference between the menus north and south
of the border. Being honest, Scotland may not be a great culinary experience. The scottish food and, perhaps more important,
the marketing of scottish food has had a major face-lift through a national campaign called Taste of Scotland.
The high quality of scots produce has in some ways been rediscovered of late. The climate is
perfect for stock farming. Beef, like Aberdeen Angus, is world famous for its quality. Thereīs an abundance of lamb,
and if you can afford it, venison and game birds like grouse and pheasant. With few places in Scotland more than
70 km from the sea, chances are excellent that youīll find fresh seafood on the menu even in small
villages (hopefully not battered and deep fried). Scotland is famous for the salmon, which as the trout mainly comes as the
farmed variety. Whitefish like plaice, turbot and haddock are common. Softfruit as raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
are considered the best in europe and is readily used in desserts and for the extensive production of
jam, preserves and marmalade. Oat is ideally suited to Scotlands growing conditions and an important
ingredient in many stodgy, sweet puddings and cakes, as well as in many traditional dishes.
Taste of Scotland has according to themselves
meant that the hotels, restaurants and cafés of Scotland now can offer better food of a higher quality than before.
The scots are slowly moving from regarding eating as a mere necessity towards regarding it as a
focal point of the day. Another reason for new ideas and better food could be the increasing number
of ethnic restaurants serving spicy, good-quality food at a reasonable price. In the cities the range of choice
is good while the smaller towns usually sticks to the solid scottish food. Tearooms and pubs
are the cheapest places to eat. The choices of food may be small, but the helpings are all so much generous.
Vegetarian food is not easy to find outside the cities, even though the members of Taste of Scotland are trying to remedy this.
Typical scottish dishes are cullen skink, a creamy soup made with smoked haddock,
cock-a-leekie, soup made with leek, chicken and prunes, and of course haggis. Haggis is Scotlandīs most famous dish,
made with liver, offal, oatmeal, onion and spices, traditionally served with chappit tatties, mashed potatoes, and bashed neeps,
mashed turnips, washed down with a whisky dram.
Whisky, or uisge beatha, water of life in gaelic,
is the national drink of Scotland. Whisky has been produced in Scotland since the fifteenth century.
For a long period of time, the distilling of whisky was illegal, a law achieving nothing but driving
stills underground where illicit distilling went on. In 1823, the production and selling of whisky
was legalized and today the drink is Scotlandīs chief export. Many of todayīs huge distilleries are built on the same spot as the
original illegal stills, using the same source of water as before. The quality of the water is considered the
crucial element in the making of a good whisky. Many distilleries are therefore situated in the Highlands, taking
advantage of the clear mountain springs.
Two types of whisky are produced in scottish distilleries;
single malt is made only with water, barley and yeast, whereas grain whisky, relatively cheap in production, mainly
is made with maize and a small amount of barley. Blended whisky, which accounts for more than 90% of the total sales, is
as the name suggests, a blend of the two types. A blended whisky is made up of around 70% grain whisky and 30% malt whisky.
The higher proportion of malts, the more expensive the blend. Brands as Johnny Walker, Bells and The Famous Grouse
are all blended whiskies. Many distilleries produce malt whisky both for blending with others and for their own single malt brand.
Grain whisky on the other hand is produced only for blending. Whisky is today Scotlandīs chief export
and one of the biggest tourist attractions. All over the country you can visit distilleries for a guided tour,
a complimentary free dram, and - naturally - a visit to the souvenir- and whiskyshop. The prices are
however not any cheaper than other outlets. Visitor distilleries come in all sizes - multimedia, seven-language
masstours or small, simple and low-profile tours.