Disclaimer: I’m going to give a disclaimer here, right away. You probably shouldn’t read this if you are hungry. As I wrote, I was hungry. Writing about food did not make it any better. As I reread my writing, I have become hungry once again. Just a friendly warning.
I’m adjusted with the food here, but I still miss the food from home. I’ve been craving a good bowl of pho or a plate of tofu and rice. For those who don’t know, I am a major foodie and I can talk about food for hours. I watch almost every Food Network show, I enjoy reading recipes in my free-time, and I’m a fan of experimenting in the kitchen.
While I’ve been in Scotland, to my disappointment, I don’t have a kitchen to cook meals. I find cooking very relaxing and cathartic, especially the chopping of veggies. With my accommodations on campus, I have a catered dinners in the student centre. But I don’t want to complain about this- I recognize that it is such a privilege to be on a meal plan. There is one vegetarian main-dish option every night and a stocked salad bar to choose from. It is quite good, considering my choices are limited.
When I’m not eating on-campus, I have made an effort to eat a variety of foods to try out many of the local delicacies. I’m a vegetarian, so the options are limited, but I still broke my vegetarian streak to try a bite of haggis1.
I’ve learned that breakfast food is incredible here. A full Scottish breakfast is a must- and it probably the meal I will miss the most when I return back to the states. It isn’t too complicated, but it is one of the most delicious (and unhealthy) things ever.
Let’s break down a typical breakfast.
1) Eggs. They are usually fried or poached, but scrambled is cool too.
2) Baked beans in a tomato sauce. It has to be Heinz beans in the blue can. It a delicious addition to the meal, or even better, put on top of toast.
3) Toast. You can put the beans on it, or butter it up.
4) Hashbrowns. Every breakfast I’ve gotten, it was the hashbrowns shaped like a triangle. But probably any hashbrowns would do.
5) Haggis/Haggis substitute. This is a traditional item in very breakfast. Without it, could you even call it a Scottish breakfast?
6) Sausage/Sausage substitute. It just adds to the greatness of the plate.
7) Baked tomato. This gives the plate a punch of acidic flavour and cuts through the other heavy elements on the plate.
Sometimes the breakfast will have these other components:
1) Potato scones. Contrary to the name, it doesn’t really taste like a scone because of its savoury buttery quality. It does taste similar to potato pancakes and it has the texture similar to a very thick tortilla.
2) Ham/ham substitute. This ham is like a very thick cut bacon, or very thin cut of ham. I’ve heard it is a nice salty addition to the meal.
3) Mushrooms. They add a complementary flavour to the dish, adding a little bit of smokiness.
Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is.
And you are probably wondering- where are all of the pictures? I am not including pictures for a couple of reasons. First, if you really want to see this breakfast, you can google it. I know, I sound lazy here as a blogger. But to be honest, I am always disappointed when I try to recreate meals and it never looks as pretty as a cooking blog’s pictures. And this meal is not the most photogenic, especially with my amateur photography skills. Second, I tend to dig right into meal when it is served without caring to take a photo. I feel that taking a photo sometimes ruins the excitement of receiving a fresh hot meal. In effect, I don’t have many photos of this breakfast… you will have to imagine (or google) it yourself.
Anyways, there are some other common meals in Scotland. Roasted potatoes with some sort of meat is typical, but I haven’t ate too much of it. The meals aren’t vastly different than a homecooked meal in the US. One of the main differences would be the type of vegetables. Root vegetables way more common than leafy greens.
(Almost) everything that isn’t savoury tends to have lots of sugar. I find that sweets are very popular, especially Cadbury and Hasbro. There is a really popular soda called Irn Bru that tastes like an orange cream nightmare. Or it could be a daydream if you like that sugar and caffeine rush. In the supermarkets, there are large selections of desserts including but not limited to: shortbread, teacakes, savory and sweet pies, pudding. Despite the great assortment of desserts, I have found it incredibly hard to find dark chocolate2. Scotland loves their sugary deserts.
I’ve learned that adding heavy cream on top of a cakey desert is one of most incredible things. For example, add heavy cream on the classic British sticky toffee pudding. It is my favourite dessert here. It’s very sweet, but also salty. The heavy cream adds a depth of hominess and warmth to the cake, unlike ice cream or whipped cream. You will never regret adding the cream.
I should probably stop here. I could explain foods from Scotland for days. I could probably even write a book on it. The best way is try it yourself and cook that Scottish breakfast. Or just invite yourself over for breakfast sometime, I will definitely be eating beans on toast long after I leave Scotland.
1If you want a review of haggis, you probably shouldn’t ask me. I only had a bite and it was my first time in having meat in more than four years. But, as the food critic I like to be, here is my review:
Haggis is a delicacy made primarily from sheep’s liver, heart, and lungs. There is some beef, onion, and oatmeal added to the sheep’s meat, along with traditional seasonings. The texture resembles a fine ground beef, but the tender meat melts in your mouth. Haggis has a rich buttery taste. If there was too much on a plate, it could easily overwhelm the other flavours. Luckily, it is often paired with the traditional Scottish breakfast or mashed potatoes and vegetables.
2But don’t worry about my lack of chocolate intake. I went to a chocolate festival in Perth last weekend and I bought enough chocolate to get me through finals week.