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Culture: Cuisine


The wealth of seafood available around Scotland's coast provided the earliest settlers with their sustenance, while primitive oats became the mainstay after the introduction of agriculture. Diets changed drastically in the feudal period, however, which introduced restrictions on what and where common people were allowed to hunt, and therefore what they could eat. While the peers of the realm feasted on venison, boar, fowl, songbirds, expensive spices imported from abroad, and the meat of domesticated animals, middle-class people and peasant farmers rarely enjoyed the luxury of meat. The lower strata of Scots society enjoyed the products their animals provided rather than the animals themselves, which is seen today in the prevalence of dairy in traditional Scottish fare. An average meal consisted of a pottage of herbs and roots (flavoured with meat or stock when available), bread made from oats and barley, and cheese.

Medieval Scots society being mobile, it was important to develop food that would keep for awhile. Men would commonly carry a small bag of oatmeal that could be cooked into porridge or oatcakes. Scotland's national dish, haggis, originated in a similar way.

Today, a traditional Scottish breakfast includes a plate of porridge oats - made with salt, not sugar - followed by bannocks (oatcakes) with a smattering of Dundee's famous raspberry marmalade. The full traditional breakfast is much heavier fare, consisting of black pudding (oatmeal and cow blood), baked beans, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and fried tomatoes. For a quick lunch, a Scot might grab some fish and chips or enjoy a healthy Scottish broth. During a busy week, a Scots family might enjoy stovies, a dish made from the leftovers of previous meals, usually potatoes, vegetables, and beef drizzled with lard for flavouring. And if the New Year has recently passed, people might snack on leftover black buns, a fruit cake covered in a pastry shell that is a special Hogmanay treat.

Scottish fare is best followed with a dram or two of premium Scotch whisky.

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