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10 foods that make you glad to be Scottish

Which items of Scottish food and drink do you miss most when you leave the country?

Published: June 15, 2015
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Hangover cures, home comforts, ice breakers, gifts and cold remedies; in Scotland food can be many things.

As a nation we love nothing more than tucking into our favourite meal, sharing our favourite treat or creating our favourite dishes.

Food and drink is part of Scotland's cultural make up, helping to knit closer ties in communities, cement relationships and form international pacts dating back to the days before it was even one nation.

From ancient recipes for Heather Ale to the more modern Chicken Tikka Masala, each influx of immigrants and cultures has seen new dishes added to the national cuisine.

However, there are some examples that have been elevated above the norm to near mythical status and its these items that most Scots, ex-pats and those of Scots descent miss the most when they aren't in the country.



Irn-Bru, Scotland's other national drink, has to be the first name on this list.  Synonymous with Scotland, Irn-Bru is often listed in the same iconic group as Haggis, kilts and bag pipes by those beyond its borders.

Launched in 1901, the Scots have had a steadfast love affair with the soft drink ever since with most now claiming they couldn't live without the orange nectar.

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Sold not just in Scotland and the UK but throughout the world (usually wherever there's a decent community of Scots) Irn-Bru is now massive in Russia, Canada and Australia.



Picture: Flickr\David McKelvey

Not a firm favourite of many a dentist but nothing pleases Scottish children - and most adults - more than being a offered a chunk of the marble like treat.

Sugary sweetness of a kind you won't find anywhere, the true delight of tablet is the gritty texture that melts in your mouth.

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Want to impress friends in other parts of the world? There's no quicker way than by offering some tablet.

Be prepared though, it really does take some skill to make right and after trying to make it ourselves on several occasions, we now have far more respect for our elder relatives who make it look so easy.

• READ MORE: Traditional Scottish recipe: Tablet

 Short Bread 

Romanes and Paterson Scottish Shop, Princes Street

Picture: TSPL

Delivered in tartan tins across the UK and beyond, these sweet, crumbly biscuits are loved by Scots and tourists in equal amounts.

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The kind of gift you give in the hopes of receiving a share when the tin is inevitably opened, treats like shortbread made all the cheek pinching and hair ruffling when visiting relatives as a child worth it.

There are few better accompaniments for tea or coffee (other than perhaps tablet) than shortbread and if you haven't tried this pairing already then you've no excuse now.

Square sausage

Picture: Naomi Vance

"In Germany, there's a sausage on every corner, while in Scotland, there's a corner on every sausage." Said somebody once, somewhere.

Ah, the roll and square sausage, as much a signifier for 'it's time to get up' as the breaking dawn or that pesky alarm clock. Supposedly named after comedian Tommy Lorne (a collision of two of the nation's favourite past times - food and comedy)  or Lorne in Argyll, depending on who you believe, Lorne sausage is a national institution.

When paired with a cold can of Irn-Bru, the geometric culinary delight - usually sandwiched between a Morton's roll (well fired if you're old school) - is considered to be the best hangover cure around and most Scots will swear by it.

The roll and square sausage, and by extension, the full Scottish fry-up will always be one of the first things Scots miss when they leave the country for any longer than 48 hours.

• READ MORE: A history of the square sausage, including a recipe for making your own

Tattie Scones

Less excluding than square sausage as it is loved by veggies and carnivores a like, the humble, triangular scone is as much a mainstay in any Scottish breakfast as black pudding, square sausage or bacon.

Crispy yet light and fluffy on the inside, the juxtaposition of textures make this breakfast item essential eating. The journeyman of the Scottish morning meal, there can be few better things to dip into egg yolk than a tattie scone and the excellent flavour and versatility makes it a great addition to any breakfast roll.

• READ MORE: A history of the potato scone, including a recipe for making your own

Fish and chips

Perhaps more of a UK wide favourite rather than just a Scottish one, but few nations do the ubiquitous fish and chips better.

From the sausage supper to the near mythical deep fried mars bar (yes we know they aren't actually as common as people believe but many places still do them) Scotland has elevated the 'chippy' to almost an art form.

The pinnacle of this food treat is the fish supper. Perfect white haddock, crispy golden batter and crunchy chips all come together to make the king of comfort foods.

Salt and sauce or salt and vinegar? We won't ask which is better, that's perhaps a debate for another day.

Black pudding

Picture: Revolt\Wikimedia

Blodpudding, boudin noir, morcilla... it is known by many names in many countries, but few places enjoy this particular type of blood sausage as much as Scotland.

Black pudding inspires cult like devotion in those who enjoy it and its many variants. An essential part of the Scottish breakfast, its tangy flavour perfectly compliments square sausage, bacon, tattie scones and eggs and is enjoyed widely throughout the country.


Picture: iStock

Surrounded by myth, banned in several countries and possibly the most famous food stuff on this list, haggis will likely be the first name on people's lips when asked to name a Scottish food.

When describing to others how it's made, most will screw their face up, either in disgust at the description or disbelief that it's not an actual animal that's hunted.

Luckily, most love the taste, and few items are as likely to get tourists talking more than this most celebrated of Scottish dishes.

There are really only three ways to enjoy haggis; made at home by experienced hands, in a well respected restaurant or deep fried in batter by your local chippy.

Cullen Skink

Picture: Picture:

Scotland loves soups, the simple style, modest presentation and delicious flavours appeal to Scots on the most basic of levels.

There are a few we could have added here that would be have more than been adequate but none are as nostalgic or as synonymous with Scotland's love of seafood than Cullen Skink.

A hearty soup made using smoked haddock, potatoes and onions, Cullen skink is smokier, heartier and more flavoursome than many other types of fish soups or chowders.

It is enjoyed widely across the north-east where it originated and also in many other parts of the country.

Held in special regard it is often served as the starter at many formal Scottish dinners.

Like this? See also:

• Five Scottish food myths that need to be busted now

• Ten of the best Scottish food and drink proverbs


Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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