Glasgow, Scotland plays host to this year’s Commonwealth Games. Tune in from 23 July to 3 August, when the world’s best athletes go for gold. And how else can we bring the celebration into our homes? Why, ’tis only fair to share the fare of the Scottish.
There’s more to this distinctive cuisine than haggis. Scotland’s food culture is alive and kicking, boasting a very dynamic produce industry that feeds the Scots and other nations through its export market. Scotland’s lush hills, clear coastal waters and fertile lands make for highly suitable agricultural sites. Its farmed seafood, especially salmon, is world-renowned, its Aberdeen Angus steaks are enjoyed globally and its dairy industry is a booming business unto itself. Take a look at some of the specialties the Scots love.
If you like to start the day completely satiated, treat yourself to the Full Scottish Breakfast. The plate is packed high with sausages, bacon, eggs, tatties (potato scones), fried mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and – a Scottish favourite – black pudding. Black pudding typically contains pork blood, fat, oats, barley and spices – all wrapped up in a length of intestine.
If you prefer a lighter, more wholesome start to the day, enjoy a steaming bowl of hot porridge made with Scottish oatmeal and sweetened with brown sugar, a few juicy raisins and a splash of cream.
Soups and casseroles
Given Scotland’s chilly climate, soups and casseroles are hugely popular. Scotch broth would have to be the best known – its dense texture and flavoursome ingredients make it a hearty main meal. What’s in it? Barley with a stewed or braised cut of lamb, along with root veggies and leeks, topped with parsley. Scotch broth is a favourite on New Year’s Day, though it’s best to make it the day before to allow the flavours to develop and integrate.
Some of the best elements of Scottish cuisine are the wonderful names of the dishes. Fancy cock-a-leekie soup? How about cullen skink? Both remain popular Scottish meals and are typical of the slow-cooking technique you see throughout Scotland’s food culture. As you’d expect, cock-a-leekie is chicken and leek soup, which the Scots often thicken with rice or barley. The original recipe adds prunes during cooking, and some traditionalists still sweeten the dish with thinly sliced prunes at the end. Cullen skink is a dense soup made rich with milk or cream, and features smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. The soup takes its name from the town where it originated – Cullen in Moray on the northeast coast of Scotland.
For a sugar hit, try Scotland’s famous tablet, which dates back to the 18th century – a traditional sweet made from sugar, condensed milk, butter and vanilla. It’s boiled to a soft-ball stage then allowed to crystallise. Tablet is similar to fudge with a harder, grainy texture.
People all over the world love Scottish shortbread, usually enjoying it at Christmas and New Year, but why not for the Commonwealth Games, too? Scottish shortbread is luxuriously moist and features a generous amount of butter to make it melt-in-the-mouth soft.
Oatcakes, cheddar and Scotch whisky
End your day with a Scottish oatcake, which debuted in the 14th century, when Scottish soldiers lugged around sacks of oatmeal, then moistened and heated it on a metal plate over a fire. Pair your oatcake with a piece of Scottish cheddar, one of the finest examples of cheese style. And how could we forget Scotch? Pour yourself a glass of Islay whisky, preferably single malt, and make it neat.
Now that you’ve got the menu, take your Commonwealth Games celebration to the next level by combining some of these traditional treats with your own family games night at home. In keeping with the theme of the Games, you could assign each family member a country (decorate by printing out images of the flags of the different countries – or having the kids draw them). Then head to the backyard and choose some games that feature in the real competition, such as badminton, lawn bowls, cricket or your own creative triathlon. Celebrate victory by giving out medals or prizes to the top three winners.