Culinary Basics: Scottish Cuisine

Haggis isn’t for everyone, but you don’t need to worry because Scottish cuisine isn’t stuck in the past.

By Hillary Mason
Credit: Bernt Rostad / Haggis / Flickr

From wild hilly ranges to great locks and famous historical figures, including Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. Scotland is a nation loved for its ruggedness more than its culinary brilliance. However, Scottish cuisine can be exceptional. 

Put aside the nation’s most famous culinary creations, like porridge, haggis, and the now-infamous deep-fried Mars bar. Consider its fresh produce instead. From prized Aberdeen Angus beef to the highest quality salmon and soft fruits. Scottish cuisine has the ingredients to delight any palate but its climate and history has always meant hearty, warming meals are its cornerstone. 

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Burns Night Tradition

For example, the best known and most traditional dish in Scottish cuisine is haggis. A mix of sheep lungs, heart, liver, and other innards that are boiled, then minced and mixed with onion, oatmeal, and suet, which is hard raw beef fat. This is then put inside a sheep’s stomach, sewn closed, and boiled for several hours. 

Despite how it sounds, haggis is flavorful and a traditional supper for Burns Night, which is the celebration of Scotlands’ National Poet, Robert Burns. The celebration happens every January 25th. Burns is historically considered to have loved the dish and even famously wrote a poem called ‘Address to a Haggis’. 

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Scottish Cuisine Today

Haggis isn’t for everyone, but you don’t need to worry because Scottish cuisine isn’t stuck in the past. Like with every European cuisine, you’ll find common western staples if visiting. From burgers to fine dining. 

There’s even some crossover with famed English dishes, including fish and chips (chunky fries), bangers and mash (sausages and potato), and a full Scottish breakfast (as opposed to a full English breakfast). The difference between the two is that a full Scottish is served with lorne sausage (square not tubular), and tattie scones (potato cakes). 

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Dishes of Scotland

Neeps and Tatties: Served as a side to many Scottish dishes, neeps are turnips and tatties are potatoes. These vegetables are boiled and then mashed. It’s a common side served with haggis. 

Scottish Tablet: A very traditional Scottish treat. It’s made with sugar, condensed milk and butter that is cooked until crystalized and cut into blocks. 

Deep Fried Mars Bar: This Scottish creation is also known as a battered Mars bar. It is simply a sweet chocolate bar, dunked in a batter mixture and then deep fried until crispy and golden brown. It’s delicious, gooey, and very unhealthy. 

Scotland shares a border with England and is part of the United Kingdom. It is also west of Denmark, and southwest of Norway, each of which is separated by the North Sea.

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