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Outlander cookbook author defends use of American recipes

Canadian author Theresa Carle-Sanders has defended her cookbook, which is inspired by hit television series Outlander, after it was criticised for featuring American-style recipes.

Published: August 24, 2016
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Outlander Kitchen is billed as the official companion to the hit drama series in which a Second World War nurse is transported to Highland Scotland in 1743.

While the book features classic several Scottish dishes such as Cullen skink and cock-aleekie soup, the Canadian author has been accused of padding out the guide with North American recipes such as “Maple Pudding”, “Apple Fritters” and “Sweet Potato Pie”.


The cookbook, which includes a foreword by Diana Gabaldon, is inspired by the hit TV show Outlander. Picture: contributed

This has prompted several Scottish chefs to criticise the £25 hardback, saying it might give people the wrong view of Scottish food.

However, Carle- Sanders has defended the book, saying the criticisms have stemmed from a mild confusion over the plot of the books from which the cookbook takes its inspiration.

In reply to the accusations levelled at her, she stated: "It seems a number of Scottish journalists, and probably most Scots, are under the mistaken impression that Outlander takes place entirely in 18th century Scotland.

"Anyone who has read the book series knows this not to be true. Indeed, even a cursory glance at the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook beyond the Table of Contents would give the curious ample opportunity to put this incorrect assumption to rest.

"Every recipe in Outlander Kitchen is accompanied by an excerpt from the book in which it is mentioned. Many of these excerpts mention the geographic, and/or temporal, location of the scene taking place."

READ MORE: Outlander Kitchen recipe: Steamed Mussels with Butter

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Carle-Sanders adds that the book was never intended to be a Scottish cookbook but simply a cookbook inspired by the series of books created by Diana Gabaldon, she adds: "Outlander Kitchen is a cookbook based on the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. While Outlander begins in Scotland, and we return to Jamie Fraser's homeland more than once in the eight books, the bulk of the story after Dragonfly in Amber (book 2) actually takes place outside of Scotland.

"Claire and Jamie eventually settle in 18th Century Colonial America, in the backwoods of what is now known as North Carolina, after a few stops along the way.

"From that point of view, Outlander Kitchen is not a Scottish cookbook - it's an Outlander cookbook. That's not to say that the cookbook doesn't highlight a number of Scottish fare.

"For example, the 18th Century recipes for both Cullen Skink and Cock-a-Leekie both translate very well to 21st Century palates, necessitating very few changes to the traditional 'receipts' I found during research.

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"Other recipes, such as Pumpkin Seed and Herb Oatcakes, and Fiona's Cinnamon Scones, I chose to modernize, either through methods, or ingredients, or both. And then there are the thoroughly modern Scottish recipes, like Banoffee Trifle at River Run, which I chose to throw back in time through the stones, anachronistic though they may be.

The author also believes the point that the story focuses very heavily on time travel wasn't taken into consideration when people were discussing the book.

"Outlander, is, after all, a time travel story; Claire and others go back and forth in time throughout the books, and so in addition to historical recipes from Scotland, England (Claire is an English Sassenach, remember), and revolutionary America, there is also a wide selection of 20th Century dishes, mostly from the two decades Claire spends in Boston: Claire's Roast Chicken, Spaghetti and Meatballs with the Randalls, and Baja Fish Tacos, to name a few.

"Lastly, to round out the collection are a number character-inspired recipes, including Mr. Willoughby's Coral Knob, Black Jack Randall's Lavender Fudge, and Stephen Bonnet's Salted Chocolate Pretzel Balls that don't necessarily belong to a specific place or time, but do bring fun and personality to the sometimes burdensome task of cooking for family and friends."

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Carle-Sanders believes the message behind the book was not just highlighting the beauty of Scottish fare, but also getting people into the kitchen and making great food, be that with Scottish recipes or otherwise, she said: "Beyond bringing fictional food to life, my biggest thrill with Outlander Kitchen has been getting fans back in the kitchen, cooking from scratch. And while many of Outlander Kitchen's most popular recipes are traditional Scottish staples such as Brianna's Bridies, Shepherd's Pie, and Scotch Eggs, many more are inspired from across the globe, following the geographical and time travels of the Frasers and their descendants.

"Outlander Kitchen is so much more than just merchandise; it is a creative collection of tested, doable recipes from the past and present that encourages book and TV fans to cook alongside their favourite fictional characters for company."

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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