I think what I expected in Scotland was a lot of overcooked meat, boiled potatoes and vegetables, stodgy heavy desserts, and haggis…. whatever the heck that was. Add to that what I’d heard about the full Scottish breakfast: porridge, oatcakes, poached eggs, pork sausage, bacon, blood sausage, haggis, sautéed mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. Let’s just say my expectations were not too high.
Our actual experience was quite different. To be fair, we did have one dinner that fit the stereotype, and all those breakfast options did appear, but for the most part we had wonderful meals featuring all of Scotland’s bounty: beef, lamb, seafood, vegetables, local fruits, and delightful desserts. As for haggis…. it is DELICIOUS; a blend of meat, peppery spices and oats that is very similar in taste and texture to the Hungarian hurka sausage that we love. And the Scots have all kinds of inventive ways of serving it, from hash to “lollipop” balls to layered like a mousse, with and without all kinds of yummy sauces.
As we travelled through the highlands, lowlands, and islands, we saw sheep and cows grazing free everywhere. There are at least 7x as many sheep as there are people, and even more cows. We saw miles of fields of hay being harvested as winter feed. We saw – and ate – brambles (blackberries) growing wild in the countryside. The proximity of the Gulf stream makes for a temperate climate where soft fruits like berries grow almost year round. Sweet strawberries were abundant. Just about every kind of vegetable grows there: from artichokes to zucchini. So much for the “neeps and tatties” (turnips and potatos) stereotype, although those 2 things are definitely mainstays! We also passed by numerous seafood farms for salmon, mussels and more, and checked out the fishing boats bringing in scallops, lobster, lagoustine, haddock and hake.
We made a point of “testing” scones each day at lunch. In general, Scottish scones are larger and somewhat denser than the English tea scones we were familiar with, but we enjoyed them nonetheless!
Here are a few of our favourite meals from the trip:
By the way, “braw” is Scottish slang for brilliant….great….fantastic!