TRADITIONAL Scottish foods such as haggis and porridge can be found in lots of places around the world, but are there any Scottish kitchen staples that have yet to make it past our Borders?
A tattie scone is a staple of a fry up. The fry up’s English cousin, “the full English breakfast”, makes all the right noises—tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, beans, all of that—but it’s missing a crucial cog. Tattie scones are not the flashiest or most handsome parts of the Artery Cloggertron 3000, but it’s not a proper fry up without one (or the “Scotch breakfast”, if you insist on the much less frequently used term). Traditionally made with leftover potatoes, tattie scones serve a similar function to a hash brown, but, in truly patriotic fashion, they’re even less healthy for you (they’re dripping in butter and salt). The tattie scone has an Irish cousin, but since they’re called something else (farls or fadges) they still count here.
Tablet and fudge look pretty much the same—and the basic ingredients are identical—but tablet is a little bit rougher and crumblier on the tongue. Fudge sticks to your teeth; tablet breaks apart into small, sugary boulders. Made from sugar (lots of it), condensed milk and butter, it’s commonly flavoured with vanilla or whisky. They’re pretty ubiquitous: you’ll find them in sweet shops, newsagents, large supermarkets, and even occasionally in the pub. Almost without exception, they’re sold in a clear, thin plastic wrap, giving the confection a homespun appearance.
A lorne sausage is the answer to an adaptation of a popular geometry problem (“how do you square the sausage?”). The rust-coloured patty has, no doubt, left some visitors expecting a link sausage pretty bemused. Let’s be honest, it’s a bit weird. But, once you get past that, the lorne is actually a feat of engineering, especially in a white roll. The brown sauce (the application of which is mandatory) is in much less danger of spilling out of the roll when you squeeze it. The evenly spread shape of the sausage also makes it less likely for the meat mattress to slip about in your precarious clutches.
A delicacy of the North-east, butteries are savoury, salty rolls that were made to last (fisherman needed a long-life snack that wouldn’t go mouldy). The rowie, as it’s otherwise known, is usually served with jam or butter—in this way, they’re similar to croissants, though they’re wider and flatter in appearance—or eaten on their own. The Aberdeenshire-born snack has recently been the subject of a bid for protected status, which would put it in the same category as Arbroath Smokies and Stornoway black pudding.
Ecclefechan, a small corner of Dumfries that isn’t famous for much (though Robert Burns did once pen a song called “The Lass O’ Ecclefechan”), makes a delicacy that is as sweet as the village’s sing-songy name. Ecclefechan tart is made with walnuts and raisins, giving it a mince pie sort of flavour. Other dried fruits can be thrown in too, and many tend to tinker with the tart’s basic recipe. Cinnamon or other spices are frequently added to accentuate the dish’s rich, warming taste. A supercharged version of the tart, black bun—a fruit cake made with raisins, currants, almonds, sometimes whisky, and a hell of a lot of spices encased in pastry—is eaten on Hogmanay, but it’s also eaten, bizarrely, in the Appalachian region of the US, which stretches from Mississippi to Pennsylvania.