O! braw times for the guts!
Leeze me on drink!
"THE diet of
the Scots", wrote John Chamberlayne in the eighteenth century, "is
agreeable to their estates and qualities. No people eat better, or have
greater varieties of flesh, fish, wild and tame fowl, than the Scots
nobility and gentry in their own country, where they can furnish their
tables with ten dishes cheaper than the English can provide three of the
same kinds; and of their wines, the French themselves did not before the
Union drink better, and at very easy rates. The tradesmen, farmers and
common people are not excessive devourers of flesh, as men of the same
rank are in England. Milk-meats and oatmeal, several ways prepared, and
kale and roots dressed in several manners, is the constant diet of the
poor people (for roast-meat is seldom had but on gaudy-days); and with
this kind of food they enjoy a better state of health than their more
southern neighbours, who fare higher".
Some of this pleasant
picture of Scots food and drink is out of date. We may, however, draw
attention to the fact that to-day the best roast beef in England, the
sweetest mutton, the finest as well as the cheapest sorts of fish, and
most of the game that's worth while -not to speak of the highest grades of
oatmeal and of strawberries-come from north of the Tweed. Sometimes, as
with lobsters, the native products do not reach our tables except via the
London markets. Perhaps this is one reason among many for the sad
declension in Scotland to that low form of feeding known as the high tea.
Where at one time in a simple household you would sit down to a dish of
cock-a-leekie broth, a hot partan pie, or a juicy mutton one (and even now
there are no mutton pies to compare with those of Scotland), with a glass
of wine, ale or whisky, to-day you are as often as not presented with a
bewildering choice, all on the board at once, of breads, scones, cakes,
cheese, potted-head and pickles, and asked to help yourself to all in
turn, while you are expected to wash the barbarous medley down with gobs
of tea. If we no longer enjoy a better state of health than our more
southern neighbours, this is, no doubt, accountable for it. Our palates
are rather French (or anyhow, European) than Yorkshire, and our own native
ways of preparing our native products for gustation are decidedly not
English. Some, such as the milk-meats and oatmeal dishes mentioned by
Chamberlayne, are manly as Cossack cookery. Others show a delicate
discrimination (proved long ago by our discovery of braxy mutton) which
presupposes the true culinary instinct. Better any day a single dish of
well-prepared high mutton, high venison or high grouse than a multiple
Here it will be enough to
note some of our most characteristic foods and the dishes made from them,
first in the form of broths, then proceeding naturally through vegetables,
fish and shell-fish, game, meat dishes, cheese and egg dishes, to scones,
oatcakes, shortbread, butter-scotch and Edinburgh rock. There was a
Scottish saying, quoted by Burt, that "if you would live well on the
Sabbath, you must eat an episcopal dinner and a presbyterian supper". We
may take it that the first was composed mainly of strong meats and fishes,
the second of farinaceous and milk foods. So all tastes will be served.
And if some feeders are so abandoned as to mix the two, their stomachs
must be upon their own heads.
N.B. - For the traveller
with a short purse, a couple of mutton pies bought in any shop is a good
way out of a meal. A tablespoonful of water should always be added to each
pie before heating it in the oven. This makes gravy. Mutton pies should be
Like the Russians, we
believe in the kailyard school for our broth, and if everybody in Scotland
were to stick to the old custom, still preserved among French peasants and
bourgeois and Russian workers, of relishing every day a pint of liquid
containing the innumerable salts of the commonest green-stuff, Scotland
would be the better for it.
This old cottage recipe
requires half an ox head or a cow heel, a cabbage or a head of greens of
any sort, a teacupful of oatmeal, and salted water.
Cover the meat in a large
saucepan with three quarts of salted water. Boil till the fat floats on
the top. Add the green-stuff, having first well washed it and cut it up
small. Toast the oatmeal with a little salt in it, press it into a bowl,
add a teacupful of the boiling fat liquor from the pot, and stir. It will
form knots, which is what you want, or ought, in this case, to want. Put
it into the broth, stir for a moment or two, removing, if you like,
superfluous fat from the surface. Serve, with or without the meat,
according to appetite. If you have been up Schiehallion beforehand you
will want the ox head. If not it will serve as the basis of a barley broth
for next day.
POWSOWDIE, OR SHEEP'S HEAD
This is an excellent
specific for those who have been driven back from attempting Glencoe by
the famous "hunger-bunk" which haunts that pass for foot passengers. It
demands a sheep's head, as large, as young and as fat as possible, and a
sheep's trotters, all of which the blacksmith will singe for you the day
before without charging you anything, as they must be soaked overnight.
Before soaking get somebody else -perhaps the blacksmith's wife-to scrape
and brush these members and to remove the glassy part of the eyes. She may
also consent to split the head with a cleaver, lay the brains aside, clean
the gristly parts, slit the trotters and take out the tendons. Every good
Scotswoman knows how to do such necessary things. Thus prepared you have
only to wash every bit once more and put them in water before earning a
First thing in the morning
pour off the water and put the solids with rather more than a gallon of
fresh water in a lordly pot, adding from two to three pounds of scrag or
trimmings of sweet fresh mutton, a cupful of barley, two cupfuls of fresh
green or soaked white peas and some salt. Take off the scum as it rises,
and when it has boiled more than an hour add some sliced carrots and
turnips and onions. Continue the boiling while you are challenging
Glencoe, having left instructions that after three hours or so it is to be
allowed merely to simmer. A ram's head ought to boil longer than a
wether's, and the older the sheep (the blacksmith will have told you its
age if the butcher was reticent) the longer must it both boil and simmer.
Before serving add a generous heap of chopped parsley. Glencoe and all,
you will eat no more that night. But you may safely sit and drink.
For this you want the
kitchen garden at its best and some neck of lamb or mutton. You may either
make the stock the day before, removing the meat before you make the
broth, or you can cut up the meat and serve all together. Either way,
success depends upon long, slow and gentle cooking.
Three pounds of meat go to
two and a half quarts of water. When the liquor is strong enough (i.e.
after an hour and a half of boiling) add every kind of vegetable you like
and can get, cutting them up first and putting in the most easily softened
ones later than the harder roots. Be generous with your onions. Some
people like the inclusion of a sprig of mint. The proportion of vegetables
is as much a matter of taste as the kinds are of convenience. If the main
body of meat has been taken out of the stock, small pieces of beef and/or
mutton, cut up as for a pie, ought to be added. A shake of white pepper is
allowed last thing before serving, when the broth should be thick and
creamy. Three hours is not too long for the cooking of the vegetables and
the added meat. Before adding the vegetables the stock should be well
skimmed and any added meat should be lean.
This asks for a fowl if you
can afford it. If not, some beef or veal stock will serve, but it must be
good and strong. If you are really rich, or awfully greedy, you will put
the trussed bird into the meat stock. Whatever you do in this respect you
will need from six to a dozen leeks, one dozen prunes and some Jamaica
pepper. If the leeks are big winter ones you should discard the coarsest
of the green parts. Also you may choose between cutting up the leeks
finely or putting them through a sieve when soft. Everything, except the
prunes, put in together with some salt in the water, must first come to
the boil and then simmer by the side of the fire for four hours at least,
with occasional skimmings. Half an hour before serving, take out the fowl,
and cut up and return the flesh. At the same time add the pepper and
prunes. Or the prunes may be cooked separately and handed round on a dish
by themselves, to be incorporated with the soup or not as your guests see
fit. You can judge of your guests' characters by their behaviour when
confronted with the prunes. If they refuse or grimace, they are not worth
cooking for, anyhow not cooking cock-a-leekie for (sometimes spelled
cockie-leekie). If the maker of the broth has been considering one of her
guests as a possible husband, this prune test is well-nigh infallible. If
he rejoices in the prunes he will be an appreciative husband. If he turns
away from them he will be an easy one to feed, and married felicity on
tins, with an occasional chop, may be embarked upon with confidence.
There are many ways of
making barley or "Scotch" broth, and all of them are good. One may start
off with stock, made from a sheep's head, a fowl, shin of beef or scrag or
neck of lamb. Or one may start cooking the harder vegetables with any of
these and take the meat out before serving the broth. In the good old days
the meat so treated did for the servants' dinner. Now it is good enough
for ours as a second course or next day. The barley ought to be Scotch, as
this is better and more glutinous than English pearl barley. The
vegetables are carrots, turnips (more of the former than the latter),
celery, onions, a little chopped greens if wanted, and some chopped
parsley before serving. There are two ways of dealing with the onions.
They can either be cut up and fried in butter till golden before pouring
on the stock or adding the water and meat, or they can be added whole with
the other vegetables, when they should be removed still whole before the
stuff is served. Half a cupful of the barley is enough for five people. If
the stock is first made, the vegetables should boil for three hours; if
meat and vegetables are put in together, it will want two hours longer. Do
not season till near the end, then add some cream or the yolk of an egg
and stir, but do not let it boil again. Some people leave a turnip in
whole, remove it when soft, mash it and put it back. Much time and trouble
will be saved when making this or any of the other vegetable broths, if
the vegetables are only roughly sliced to start with. Then, when they are
soft, if the broth is poured through a colander, the vegetables can be
easily and quickly cut up small while still in the colander by using two
knives, one in each hand and working with them crosswise. A lump of sugar
and another of butter should be added to all the barley broths, the sugar
at the beginning, the butter at the end.
partridge, hare and rabbit soups are all better in Scotland than
elsewhere. But those who want hare or rabbit soup usually know how to make
it, and those who can come by the game birds have usually come also by
some attendant who can dress them for the tureen. The bird soups are
improved, if thick, by a final addition of cream; if thin, by a glassful
of sherry or red wine; a bouquet of herbs is absolutely necessary. Brown
bread crumbs cast upon the soup at the last are correct, but some people
prefer sago, as brown bread may make the liquid curdle. The sago must be
added an hour before serving, and must be carefully stirred. Unlike
oatmeal, it has no virtue in its knots.
Fish and Shell-fish
These are among the best
and the most characteristic that Scotland has to offer, and as they are
rarely to be met with elsewhere in the British Isles outside of the most
expensive restaurants for French fare, half a dozen sorts are included
Cullen Skink is a cottage
recipe from the shores of the Moray Firth.
Skin a Findon haddock (the
same as a "Finnan haddie") and just cover it with boiling, unsalted water
in a pan. When it is well boiling add a chopped onion, and when the fish
is cooked, which will be in a very few minutes, take it out and remove all
the bones. Put the bones back in the stock, adding some water, and boil
for an hour. Strain, throw away the bones and bring again to the boil. Add
a pint of boiling milk, the flaked fish, and salt if necessary. When this
has boiled for a few minutes thicken with mashed, cooked potatoes, and add
a tablespoonful of butter and a good dollop of coarse black pepper. You
will notice that this soup is quickly made.
FISH SOUP ("FISH-AND-SAUCE")
This is made from any kind,
or several kinds together, of white sea-fish, so it suggests itself when
you have come home with a mixed catch. Make a stock with the heads, tails
and bones, throwing in any small fish whole, but skinned. Keep the flesh
of the better ones for fillets to add later. With the stock boil some
green onions, parsley, chives and whole pepper for an hour. When strained,
thicken with butter kneaded in browned flour or with cornflour and butter;
add the fillets and cook them. Flavour with catsup or anchovy, and chopped
parsley, and before serving add a little cream. It may well be served with
heaped-up boiled rice.
The best fresh haddock soup
is made with a stock taken from skate and ling, which give their flavour,
while none but the haddock fillets appear at table. Beef stock instead of
fish stock makes a change.
A partan is strictly a
crab, but may be a lobster. Pick the flesh from two cooked crabs or
lobsters, keeping aside the parts from the claws. Boil five or six ounces
of rice in slightly salted milk till soft, but not mushy, and pass with
the crab meat through a hair sieve. Stir till perfectly smooth with a
wooden spoon, and add, gradually, as much white, unseasoned stock as you
will need for your company, taking care that the result is thinner than a
puree. Season with salt, white pepper and anchovy. Re-heat and add the
claw-meat, but do not boil. Pour into a tureen that has some cream in it.
COCKLE OR MUSSEL BROSE
Scrape well the shells and
wash in several waters, leaving under the tap in a colander till the water
runs clear. Then steep for two hours. When drained out put them in a
closely covered iron saucepan and shake over the fire till the shells
open. Remove at once, strain the liquor off into a basin, and take the
mussels out of the shells, throwing away the beards and black parts. Put
on the liquor to boil with milk and water or stock made from uncooked fish
bones or fresh fish. When this boils, add the mussels and go on boiling,
but not for longer than ten minutes. Toast a handful or so of oatmeal and
mix with it some of the boiling bree, as with Kail Brose, put the knotted
oatmeal into the soup, and when well heated through serve very hot.
They never dare make this
with fresh salmon in England and it is not so good with tinned. But if you
have fishing or poaching friends you may eat of it in Scotland. Prepare a
stock with the head, bones, fins and skin of a salmon, the bones of one or
two fresh whiting (the whiting makes all the difference) and a few root
vegetables, boiling all for half an hour. Strain and remove all the fat
and oil. Thicken with a little potato flour or mashed, cooked potato. Add
chopped parsley, some scallops of the uncooked salmon and some brown bread
crumbs. As soon as the salmon is cooked the soup is ready. This is
provided in heaven for good Scots.
Scotland is full of winkles
which are easily gathered at low tide. They can be cooked in a pot of
fresh water on the beach and eaten in the English manner with a pin,
or-far better-they can be made into soup with the addition of fish stock
or milk and water, and oatmeal, much in the same way as the cockles or
mussels. But they still have to be extracted with a pin, and the water
they are first boiled in needs careful straining before it is added to the
other stock as it is apt to be sandy. Be sure not to add any salt to
either stock or water. In winkle soup the oatmeal should not be knotted,
but rained smoothly and steadily, a little at a time from the left hand
into the boiling stock, while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon in
the right hand. The object is to get the consistency of a thin gruel,
which is then cooked for about twenty minutes before the cooked winkles
are added, after which you allow it to go ahead for ten minutes longer
before you eat it.
In the Hebrides, where the
long shell-fish called razor-fish is common, they use it for soup, either
alone, chopped up small, or mixed with any other kinds of shell-fish there
may be. The same recipe is followed, except that more milk is needed,
together with a good dollop of butter and extra pepper, and the thickening
is often done with cornflour instead of with oatmeal, this being mixed in
smoothly. When shellfish is scarce, or people are poor, the first washings
of the naked shell-fish are re-strained and used in the stock, as much of
the delicacy of flavour is lost in freeing them from sand. But if you do
not want the sand along with the delicacy of flavour the straining has to
be done several times through a fine mesh.
Colcannan is a Highland
dish made from two or three good red carrots, eight or ten potatoes, and
two turnips, all well boiled. When cooked, chop the cabbage finely and
mash the other vegetables. Melt a big lump of butter in a stew-pan, put in
the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Season with salt, pepper and a head of
mignonette (if you can get any). Add a tablespoonful of brown sauce before
serving as hot as may be.
Kailkenny comes from
Aberdeen and therefore is economical, especially if you have a cow that
gives cream. Mash equal quantities of boiled cabbage and potatoes (observe
that you may thus use up yesterday's leavings). Stir in a cupful of cream,
season with pepper, salt and chopped parsley; mash and mix well and serve
This is an Orcadian variant
of the same dish, omitting the cream, using mashed turnips instead of the
cabbage, and brightening the whole with chopped chives, a piece of
dripping and a suspicion more of pepper and salt. It is served just as hot
or hotter than Colcannan.
Rumbledethumps, or, as
Christopher North called it, "decent rumbledethumps", is the same as
Colcannan, but it comes from the Borders and does without the cream or
dripping, substituting an extra beating, as you mix in layers the potatoes
and cabbage, with a beetle, or wooden potato pestle, and allowing an extra
allowance of common black pepper. You cannot, however, do without the
butter to help things out, even in the Borders.
Stovies are potatoes of the
best quality cooked in a pot with just enough water to cover the bottom.
We always add onions ourselves, but some people prefer the potatoes alone.
Salt is sprinkled on them and dabs of butter, and they are closely covered
and very gently simmered till all is soft and melted. Milk added, as the
water is absorbed, is a great help to this delicious and filling dish. But
butter is always better for Stovies than dripping. Some wise women begin
by frying the onions gently in the butter before adding the potatoes and
water. Others put scraps of left-over meat with the vegetables when these
are half cooked. This is less wise, but more economical.
In spite of their name
these can be prepared anywhere in Scotland. Beat to a cream an ounce of
butter; add the yolk of an egg and go on beating, then mix in three ounces
of bread crumbs, a pinch of powdered sweet herbs, some chopped parsley,
pepper and salt, and three-quarters of a gill of milk. Have seven unpeeled
potatoes beheaded and hollowed out. Stuff them with the mixture; put their
heads on again, bake in a quick oven and serve hot in a napkin. Grated
cheese may be added instead of or with the bread crumbs.
Turnip Purry, or mashed
turnip, is good by itself or with most meats. Pare off all the woody or
stringy parts with the skins of some turnips or swedes. Boil them in
unsalted water for an hour, or, if they are old, two hours. Drain, and
mash well with a wooden spoon, passing them through a sieve if you have
the energy. Put the mash back in the stew-pan and warm up with fresh
butter, black and white pepper, and salt. Stir in some cream before
serving. To be truly Scottish the turnips ought also to have the addition
of a very little powdered ginger, and even less powdered sugar.
Wet and Dry Fish
How to Fry a Herring
in the right way is not common knowledge out of Scotland. For one thing
the herring has to be fresh. Herring not newly taken from the sea makes
excellent manure. The newly taken fish, as good as a salmon in its way,
should at once be cleaned and dried, sprinkled with pepper and salt, and
tossed in the coarsest oatmeal till thickly coated on each side. Have
dripping in a frying-pan smoking hot, put in the herrings and brown them
on each side, allowing five minutes a side. Drain on paper, and serve with
thin slices of lemon and sprigs of parlsey. To each two herrings allow an
ounce of oatmeal and the same of dripping. If the bones bother you in the
eating, bone, split and flatten each fish before treating it as above.
Plain boiled herring have to be even fresher than those that are fried,
and they must come straight out of Loch Fyne. These, boiled in their
skins, have such a look of smooth well-being that they are known as
"Glasgow Magistrates". But it is said that Glasgow magistrates no longer
look as happy as a boiled, fresh Loch Fyne herring.
To Boil a Salmon is
the best way of cooking it, though there are a dozen other ways that are a
good secondbest. If possible the fish should be boiled whole, well covered
with well salted spring water. It ought never to be skinned beforehand,
and the cleaning and scaling must be done with the utmost circumspection
so that there is no unnecessary cutting. Cooking should be gentle, and
about ten minutes to the pound allowed, but this will vary according to
each fish and its freshness. Scum should be removed during the cooking.
The moment it is taken from the boiling water, and drained, it should lie
on a napkin and be covered with several folds. The noble way to serve a
fish that is nobly fresh (and accordingly, as Meg Dods has it, "crisp,
curdy, and creamy"), is with no other sauce but a tureenful of the plain
liquor in which it was boiled. When carving, help each person to a slice
of the thick (from the shoulders and back) and a slice of the thin (from
the side and the belly). Epicures know that the thin is the better. Salmon
that is no longer quite fresh may profitably be boiled with some
horse-radish and served with mustard sauce. When mere cuts are to be
boiled the water should be warm to start with, and a squeeze of lemon will
help to keep the flesh firm.
Smoking, Kippering and
Pickling Salmon are mostly processes demanding time, space and
practice, but there is one good and easy way of pickling, should you have
more fish than you can use fresh, which will keep the precious stuff for
you for a year.
Cut the fresh fish in
pieces, boil, skin and bone them, and wrap them in a dry napkin till the
next day. Then put them in a deep crock and pour on two quarts of the best
vinegar which has been boiled along with one quart of the liquor the fish
was cooked in, one ounce of whole black pepper, half an ounce of allspice,
and four blades of mace. The spiced vinegar must be quite cold when poured
on to the salmon. Cover the whole surface with olive oil and leave it. If
you can deposit your crock one summer in a friend's house, the contents
will make an admirable hors d'oeuvre for your next summer holiday in
Scotland, provided always that your friend has been able to resist using
it for breakfast or lunch meanwhile. We recommend this as a test of
If, whether by hand (guddling)
or hook, you take any finger-length trout, try to cook them immediately by
the side of the stream, by lighting a fire and laying them, cleaned and
split, on hot flat stones. It is to be hoped that you have brought some
butter with you. If not you must eat your trout without, and this would be
a pity. They are sweet, but they soon go soft. If you take them home (and
it is always hard to throw the smallest fish back) remember that they make
excellent stock for the boiling or sautéing of their larger brothers. If
not so very small they will be improved in flavour if slightly salted and
left to lie overnight. Next day wipe them, sprinkle again with salt and a
little pepper, dip in milk and roll in coarse oatmeal. Cook very quickly
in smoking hot lard, browning them on both sides, and serve with lemon and
butter. Another way is to split them on the under side (always leaving the
skin on) and to egg and breadcrumb both sides before baking or frying. A
truly large trout should be boiled slowly in a stock made from heads and
fins, with some vegetables added, and served tout simple with nothing but
brown bread and butter, a parsley garnishing, and some of the strained
stock in a separate vessel. Cold potted trout, made by taking the flesh,
while still warm, from the cooked fish, putting it in a buttered pie-dish,
seasoned, and running melted butter over the whole, is good and useful.
WHITE SEA FISH
Allowing for a few
distinguishing features, and a few dishes which are Scotch more by name
than by nature, the preparation of white fish for the table in Scotland is
not so national as to call for a list of recipes here. On the other hand,
we are "pre-eminent in the glory" of fish that is dried or otherwise
preserved for the breakfast table, as was admitted by Thomas Love
Peacock's Rev. Dr. Folliott, who, as you will remember, said that this was
our single "eximious virtue", and that he was "content to learn nothing
from us but the art and science of fish for breakfast".
To wind-blow is the easiest
procedure for the amateur, who can hardly compete with trade methods in
smoking, kippering or salting. It is also useful for the amateur deep-sea
fisherman whose catch is apt to be mixed and to consist chiefly of small
fishes, such as whiting, youthful haddocks, sillocks (immature saith),
cuddies and so forth. If these are to be kept for one day with profit they
should be cleaned and skinned as soon after catching as may be, and the
eyes taken out. They are then covered with salt, shaken free of it without
delay or wiping, and hung up in bunches (by threading a string through the
eyeholes) in a current of air. This can be indoors or out, but must not be
in the sun, conditions which Scotland generously provides. To cook, roll
lightly in flour, broil gently over a slow fire and serve either dry or
with a piece of fresh butter rubbed over each. Whiting, be it noted,
should be hung up with the skin on and broiled without being rubbed with
flour. Or it may be boiled or brandered and eaten with melted butter. This
is a fish that needs careful handling if its full delicacy is to be tasted
and its shape preserved.
The other way is to skin
none of the kinds of fish, but to clean, wash in salt water, and hang up
in the moving air where no sun will get them. They are left until quite
hard and used as wanted, uncooked, as a relish with baps, barley bannocks
The celebrated "rizzared
haddock" should lie for twelve hours in the salt, which should be well
rubbed along the sides of the bone of each split fish after cleaning.
These are hung up in the wind in pairs by their tails. Good-sized haddock
should be chosen for this, and the heads must be cut off. Proper large
haddocks should be smoked (though the small ones, known as "smokies", are
excellent too). For smoking allow them to lie all night in the salt, and
when they have hung in the wind for a few hours, smoke them, over a peat
or sawdust fire, hanging in the chimney. If your chimney is not suitable,
set an old cask, open at both ends, over some burning peat or sawdust with
a red-hot iron in the middle and sticks or metal rods across the top for
the fish to hang from. Equable heat kept going for twelve hours will turn
them to the required bright yellow colour. If you want to remove the skin
before boiling or broiling, hold the fish to the fire so that the skin
gets hot and then smack the fish sharply with the palm of the hand, when
the skin can easily be pulled off. When boiling always have some milk in
the water, and serve with lots of butter. Of all these varieties of dried
and smoked fish, A. Soyer writes that they are "the most light, wholesome
and delicious food that could possibly be served for breakfast". So now
Cropadeu is a haddock's
liver well seasoned, enclosed in a dumpling made from oatmeal and water,
and boiled in a cloth. The liver dissolves succulently in the oatmeal
Pick the meat out of the
claws and body of a crab or lobster; clean the shell, and replace the
meat, having seasoned it with salt, white pepper and nutmeg; add dabs of
fresh butter and some bread crumbs, and half a glass of vinegar beat up
and heated with a little made mustard. Brown under the grill. Salad oil
can be used instead of butter and the vinegar can be omitted for those who
To gather limpets at low
tide successfully, you must knock them off sharply with the first blow.
quick learners, and if you fail with your first blow they will resist your
second. Luckily there are always heaps more uninstructed ones and they
learn only by experience. When you have acquired two quarts, bring to the
boil in water, remove them from the shells, and take out the eyes and the
sandy trail. Take three times their quantity of peeled potatoes, and put
layer about in a large pot, beginning with the potatoes and seasoning with
pepper and a very little salt. Add two cupfuls of the liquor they were
scalded in, and break up half a pound of butter over the top. Cover all
with a cloth well rolled in round the edges, bring to the boil, and then
simmer for at least an hour. If you remember to bring potatoes to the
beach, have a three-legged pot, and can make a fire, there can be no
better dish for a seaside picnic. Limpets are liverish if eaten in June.
At other times they are not merely tasty, nourishing and easy to digest,
but the liquor is prescribed for nursing mothers and for infants.
Seaweeds have the great
advantage over fungi in that none of them are positively poisonous, so
that if you are on the Scottish shore with nothing to eat about you and
you don't like wilks or limpets, you may safely nibble a bit of seaweed
and thus keep hunger at bay, or firth. But you will be thirsty. Our edible
seaweeds include Carrageen or Sea-moss; Tangle or
Redware (Eng. Sea-girdle); Henware or Honeyware
(Eng. Bladderlock); Sloke (Eng. Laver); and Dulse.
Sea-tangle and Dulse can be eaten raw, the latter being
reckoned as both "loosning" and "very good for the sight". To cook
Dulse, wash carefully and simmer in fresh water till tender. Strain,
cut up small, heat through in a pan with butter, add pepper and salt, and
offer it to those who really love you. They are the only people, yourself
excepted, who are likely to eat it. Tell them that when thus prepared,
especially if eaten with the juice, it is more "loosning" than when in its
raw state. Another thing to do with it is to roll it on a stone with a
red-hot poker till it turns green. It is then kept dry to eat as a relish
with potatoes. Sloke, in 1703, "restored to his former state of
health a young man who had lost his Appetite, and taken Pills to no
purpose", and for all you know it may do the same to you if you are in the
same way. If your trouble is rather lack of money than of health, "they
say that if a little butter be added to it, one might live many years on
this alone, without Bread, or any other Food, and at the same time,
undergo any laborious exercise". It should be washed to remove the salt
and sand, steeped for a few hours in cold water to which a little
bicarbonate of soda has been added, and stewed in milk, with beating to
make it tender. This is part of the laborious exercise connected with it.
Juice and weed together form the dark green soup that is so good for you.
Carrageen, after being washed, is allowed to bleach and dry on a
cloth out of doors for some days and is then kept in bags in the kitchen.
It is made into a jelly by adding a heaped tablespoonful to a quart of
milk and simmering till the milk thickens, when it is strained and cooled.
It can be flavoured with cinnamon or lemon, and is served with cream. It
is good for chest troubles, containing, as it does, iodine and sulphur. By
adding twice the quantity of milk or water it can be made into a drink.
Game shall here be confined
to grouse and venison. But in passing we may remind you that pheasant and
partridge should be well done, wild duck and solan goose rather underdone,
and grouse not more than just done. Also grouse should be hung in its
feathers for anything from three to ten days, according to its age, the
weather, and your taste.
Youth in a grouse is
indicated by rounded spurs, pointed wings, and soft down on the breast and
under the wings. The younger the bird the less long must you hang it. Old
grouse are not fit for cooking till the feathers pull easily from the
"apron". When ready to cook, pluck carefully to avoid breaking the skin.
When roasting "high" birds, put a piece of bread in the breast during the
cooking and throw it away before serving. Never wash grouse, but wipe
inside and out with a damp cloth after drawing. Young birds should be
roasted, old ones braised or made into a pie.
To Roast. - Stuff
with cranberries, red whortleberries, or butter into which pepper, salt
and lemon juice have been worked. Wrap in rashers of fat bacon, cover with
grease-proof paper, and put in a hot oven, lowering the heat almost at
once. Baste often. They will take from twenty-five to thirty-five minutes,
during which time you should pound up the livers with butter, salt and
cayenne, and spread the paste on pieces of toast each large enough to hold
a bird. Ten minutes before serving, unwrap the grouse; flour and brown
them. The perfect roasted grouse should be neither dry nor wet, but it
should glisten. No gravy should be served in the dish with it, and fried
oatmeal makes a better accompaniment than bread crumbs. You may put what
you please in the sauce-boat, but there ought to be a glass of rowan or
cranberry jelly or of pickled peaches to hand round with it.
To Braise. - Having
cleaned, trussed and seasoned, fry lightly in bacon fat till brown. Put in
a stew-pan on a bed of sliced seasoned vegetables with a bouquet garni and
enough water to cover the vegetables. (Use stock if you like, but it must
not be highly flavoured.) Cover with buttered paper and a close lid and
simmer gently for two hours or more. Strain the gravy from the vegetables
and serve separately, thickened if necessary, with cornflour. Present your
grouse at table on liver toast as if it were a young bird and with the
same accompaniments. Somebody has to eat the old ones.
Somebody must eat venison
too, as it is always getting killed and is little used for any other
purposes. Hence chunks of it are often sent, regardless of postage, to
poor relations, just to get rid of the stuff. Besides it always sounds all
right. If really well cooked it really isn't so bad as when cooked
otherwise. If an old buck, braise the chunk as you do grouse, but add two
or three cloves and some prunes and a glass of port wine, simmer for three
or four hours and do not try to pass it off as a young thing. You won't
To roast, cover it all over
with a firm suet paste and greased paper, tie this up with tape, and cook
in a fair oven from three to four hours. Undo it, season with salted and
peppered flour, baste with melted butter and brown quickly. It will be
greatly improved if some gravy (made from the stock of its trimmings or
from mutton stock, to which you have added a teaspoonful of walnut catsup,
a glass of port wine or a little lemon juice) is poured over it. Rowan or
other sharp-flavoured jelly should be offered with it. Some people will
eat more jelly than meat.
Or, of course, you may make
a pasty, stewing pieces of venison (none of them measuring more than a
couple of inches) in stock to which half a pint of port wine, a bouquet
garni, and some allspice, pepper, mace, bayleaf and salt have been
added, first having fried two or three chopped onions in the pan in half a
pound of fresh butter. When the result has cooled, bake it in pastry,
either in one dish or in separate turn-overs. We are not sure but that
this classic manner is not the best, after all, for the disposal of the
flesh of both red and roe deer. The skins make good bedside mats, and hard
wearing gloves can also be furnished from them, but stag-killers seldom
remember to send this part of the kill to those who could do with a
bedside mat or a pair of hard-wearing gloves.
Except that oatmeal is
often used instead of flour in stuffing, the cooking of most butcher meats
in Scotland follows the known modes. Collops, however, whether of mutton
or beef, are special to the country, or, at least, better than elsewhere.
We make them thus.
Remove from 1lb. of raw
beef or steak all the skin and gristle, and all but a little of the fat.
If the mincing is done at home, return any juice that comes from the meat,
as this should make the finished dish sufficiently moist without addition
of water or stock. If bought already minced, have a couple of
tablespoonfuls of pure gravy run from roast beef to add later, but do not
use stock. Choose rather plain water if the beef gravy is not handy. Put
the mince into a buttered stew-pan, and whilst cooking, beat well with a
thick spoon or pestle, and stir, to prevent knots from forming. When the
pink colour has disappeared, but not before, add salt, pepper and a whole
peeled raw onion. Put the lid on, draw to side of the fire, or turn the
gas very low, and allow to simmer without boiling for twenty to thirty
minutes, stirring now and then. Or it may be cooked in a covered stone jar
in the oven. At the end of the half-hour, add a small handful of
bread-crumbs oatmeal or barley, and some people will like a flavouring of
mushroom catsup. When the whole has cooked for five minutes longer, serve
surrounded by mashed potatoes or garnish with triangles of toast and
slices of hard-boiled egg. Hare, venison, veal or mutton can be used the
same way, but these should be further flavoured with a teaspoonful of
fines herbes. The onion should always be taken out before the meat is
Haggis, White Puddings
and Black Puddings
These are so finicky to
make and so easy and good to buy in Scotland, that we shall leave the
stout spirits who insist upon making them at home to consult cookery books
or the blacksmith's wife. Enough to say here that if you want to eat a
white pudding at its best, give it a few minutes in the oven or under the
grill after boiling. And use up what is left over by frying it in slices
next morning along with the breakfast bacon. White puddings, or "mealies",
as they are called, are served at their best with beef collops, minced
carrots and onions and mashed potatoes.
Cheese and Egg Dishes
Scots Woodcock and Scots Eggs have all attained to
The Rabbit is best made
from the distinctive Scottish, Dunlop or Gouda cheeses, although you can
fall back at second best on a good Cheshire or mellow Stilton. Remove the
crust from a slice of bread about half-an-inch thick. Toast lightly on
both sides and butter on one. Grate your cheese, putting a little butter
with it if it is not fat, and cook in a cheese toaster with a glassful of
strong brown-stout porter (or beer) a teaspoonful of made mustard and some
finely ground pepper. Stir till all is mixed and soft, spread on the
toast, and brown under the grill before serving.
For the Woodcock spread
thinner pieces of buttered toast with anchovy paste and keep them hot.
Melt two tablespoonfuls of butter in a saucepan, put in three
tablespoonfuls of cream and the raw yolks of three eggs, and stir together
over the fire till the mixture is creamy. Do not boil. Add at the last a
dash of cayenne and a little chopped parsley. Heap on the toast and serve
Scots Eggs are first boiled
hard, then peeled and dipped in raw beaten egg and coated with a forcemeat
of chopped ham, anchovy, bread crumbs and mixed spices that has been well
beaten. Fry in deep clarified fat and serve with a gravy sauce in a
COTTAGE CHEESE EGGS
Cottage Cheese Eggs, in
addition is a handy dish to serve when you are in a hurry and have some
dry scraps of cheese (mixed sorts can all be put together) to use up.
Slice thinly but do not grate the cheese, put it in a saucepan with a very
little butter and enough water to moisten while it melts, add a shake of
red pepper and a little Worcester sauce. Let the cheese stew very gently,
adding, if you like, a tablespoonful of beer. When quite soft and liquid
break in a fresh egg for each person and stir vigorously as for buttered
eggs till the eggs are incorporated and lightly cooked. Serve piled on
slices of buttered toast.
Meal and Milk Meats
Of these Porridge is the
prince. Unhappily visitors have been known to visit Scotland in search of
porridge, and to return having found nothing but varieties of patent oats.
This is to be regretted by the Scotch, if not necessarily by the visitor,
who, perhaps upon tasting the true stuff, would have found it an overrated
dish. Porridge, however, is well worth trying once, and some people like
it so much that they will go on with it.
There is only one right way
of making Porridge. Use a handful of best Midlothian oatmeal, a
breakfastcupful of spring water and a small saltspoonful of salt for each
person. Bring the water to the boil. The moment it boils let the meal fall
into it in a steady rain from one hand while you stir with the other. Go
on stirring till all is smooth, then simmer gently with the lid on for
about half an hour. Do not add the salt until the meal has been cooking
for ten minutes. Ladle straight into separate bowls and serve with
separate mugs of cold milk or cream, into which each spoonful of the hot
porridge is dipped on its way to the mouth. Sugar and hot milk are alike
abominations, but butter, or even syrup is permitted in some all-Scotch
Before leaving oatmeal it
may be noted that coarse oatmeal which has been soaked in water with a
little salt overnight, makes, uncooked, a breakfast cereal as good as any
done up in cardboard, if the water is drained off and a little cream or a
good cupful of milk served with it. Also a refreshing and stimulating
drink for a hot day is made by pouring a tumblerful of water on a
tablespoonful of oatmeal, stirring it, leaving it to settle, and drinking
the water. (See Travelling).
Oatmeal Brose is a quickly
made form of porridge that needs no cooking. Put into a bowl two handfuls
of the coarsest oatmeal and press it down firmly. Add salt and a good nut
of butter. Pour in boiling water, enough to cover the meal, and stir it up
roughly with the shank of a spoon (preferably a horn one) or a wooden
spurtle, allowing it to form knots. It should be supped with butter-milk,
but cream or milk can be used instead.
The traditional Crowdie or
Furag, which was the universal breakfast dish when Scotland stood where it
did, was made by pouring cold spring water or fresh butter-milk into
finely ground oatmeal, stirring all the time and making the meal as thin
as a pancake batter. Then you ate it, usually standing up as there was
work to be done immediately afterwards.
Crowdie Mowdie is prepared
the night before by putting into a jar a handful of oatmeal, a
saltspoonful of salt and a breakfast-cupful of milk for each person,
stirring well and covering. In the morning the jar is put into hot water
and steamed for two hours or longer. It is, in fact, a sort of milk
made with coarse oatmeal (toasted), salt or sugar to taste, and butter
fresh from the churn well beaten into the meal. Cream-Crowdie, a festival
dish, is the same, but made with whipped cream instead of the butter. It
should be frothy and light and will taste of nuts.
Highland Crowdie is
a delicious form of curdled milk. To two parts of ordinary curds (Anglice
junket) made by adding a tablespoonful of rennet to warmed new milk and
then letting it stand till cold, add one part of fresh butter. Work them
well together, adding salt, and press into a basin. Turn out next day,
when it will cut in slices like a cream cheese. Take care that you strain
off all the green whey from the milk curds before you add the butter. The
whey by itself is good as a summer drink, but must be taken while fresh.
Warm slightly two quarts of
fresh buttermilk, and add to it one pint of milk fresh from the cow. (If
the fresh milk is already cool, the buttermilk must be warmed the more.)
Mix well and leave all day. In the evening add another pint of new milk
and mix again. It should now be firm and gather a "hat". Remove this firm
top drain it in a hair sieve, and put it in a mould for half an hour. Turn
out, strew with sugar and powdered nutmeg or cinnamon, and serve with
thick cream. Hattit Kit is supposed to be made in the course of two
milkings after a butter-making, each lot of new milk being milked straight
into the vessel from the cow.
RU'GLEN AND CORSTORPHINE
There is a culinary
controversy as to whether the Glasgow or the Edinburgh suburb, then
villages, invented this milk dish, but as the two recipes vary slightly,
we give both without deciding to which belongs the credit of precedence.
For Ru'glen Cream put some sour milk into an earthenware jar or jug, stand
it in a pan of boiling water, and leave it till the milk thickens and
separates from the whey. Strain through a sieve or muslin so as to remove
the whey. Beat the sour milk with a wooden spoon till the particles are
well broken up, and add some double cream and sugar to taste. For
Corstorphine Cream stand new milk in a jar in a warm place till it goes
into a natural curd. To a quart of this add a pint of new milk, mixing
well and leave for a whole day or night, after which add another pint of
new milk, mixing again. After another twelve hours beat up the whole with
moist sugar and serve with cream.
Both of these are, of
course, the Scottish versions of the German Dickmilch and of the sour
mare's milk of the Cossacks, now so widely known as Yagurt, which gave the
clue to Metchnikoff. They are quite as conducive to health and long life
as the German or the Russian varieties.
Scones, Cakes and
The floury oval roll with a
navel on one side, which is called a "bap", is the best of all rolls for a
sandwich and is a Scotch invention. We advise, however, that you should
order them at a good baker's to be sent fresh-made and still hot next
morning in time for breakfast. Of the many kinds of girdle scones we give
only the simplest, but there is none better.
Sieve a pound of flour into
a basin, add a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda, another of cream of
tartar, and half a one of salt. If you want the scones rich, you can rub
in two ounces of butter, but this is a mistake. Add, stirring, with a
knife, enough buttermilk or thick, sour milk to make a very soft dough.
Turn out on a floured board, divide in four, and flatten with as little
kneading as possible, into round scones, about half an inch thick. Cut
each of these in quarters, flour and put on a hot girdle, (tested by
sprinkling with a little flour which should not brown at once there). Let
them bake for about five minutes each side, when they should be slightly
browned and well risen. You can tell when they are done by the edges being
dry or by inserting a knife and drawing it out without dough sticking to
it. Serve hot with butter, jam, honey ...
Of the many good scones,
including dropped ones, that are made on a girdle, these are the best for
what is known as a "hungry tea" - a meal to be carefully distinguished
from a "high" one. Mash half a lb. of boiled potatoes adding, if needed, a
pinch of salt. Work in as much flour as it will take (about two ounces)
and add half a gill of milk to make a stiff dough. Roll out as thinly as
you can on a floured board. Cut into triangles or rounds and prick all
over with a fork. Bake on a hot girdle for five minutes each side, turning
with a knife. The bubbles ought to be brown. Butter immediately and
generously and roll up before putting them on a hot plate.
Oatcakes take much skill
and practice in the making, and there are many different varieties. We
recommend that they should be bought if you do not know already how to
make them, or if your hostess or landlady is too lazy to do it.
Girdles. - Girdles
ought never to be washed. Clean the surface when hot with coarse salt and
a piece of paper, afterwards dusting with a cloth. For scones, bannocks
and oatcakes the girdle should be dry and slightly floured: for crumpets,
pancakes and dropped scones (all made with batter) it should be greased.
Of these too there are
several kinds, none of them easy to make for the first time, so they had
best be bought. But if you must try, the Ayrshire way is the easiest.
Sieve four ounces of flour and four ounces of rice flour together into a
basin, mix, and work in with the fingers four ounces of best fresh butter.
Add four ounces of castor sugar and bind the lot with the beaten yolk of
an egg and two tablespoonfuls of cream. Roll out as thin as you want it,
prick with a fork and cut into shapes. Bake on greased paper in a steady
oven for fifteen minutes when it should be golden brown. Do not turn. Cool
on a wire sieve and keep in an airtight tin. When you have made your first
batch you will see why shortbread is rather expensive to buy.
Rock is far more difficult
to make than Shortbread, as "pulling" is part of the process. If you are
not a good puller, you should buy your rock in the same shops that sell
the best shortbreads. But you might like to try Butter Scotch and
Helensburgh Toffee, which are easier and almost as nice as the
shop-bought. For the first, dissolve over gentle heat a pound of brown
sugar in an enamelled saucepan, add four ounces of well-beaten butter and
stir together until it has boiled long enough to harden when dropped into
cold water. Add some essence of lemon or a quarter-ounce of powdered
ginger dissolved in a spoonful of water. Beat for some minutes with a
fork, pour on to a buttered dish, and while it cools score into squares.
These are easily broken off when cold. For the second stir two pounds of
loaf sugar, four ounces of salt butter, a teacupful of water and a tin of
condensed milk together in a thick pan for forty-five minutes, when you
will feel you have earned the Victoria Cross. But perhaps the toffee will
be thought worth it by other people. At the end of the forty-five minutes
(no, you are not yet finished) add a teaspoonful of vanilla and go on
stirring off the fire for one minute longer. You will have learned to stir
by that time. Pour into a buttered tin, dot with walnuts if you have them
and any strength left. When cool cut into squares.
Sweet puddings are not
special to Scotland, but a beautiful sillabub, which professes to be
native, is made by whipping a pint of thick cream with half a pint of
white wine and the juice and grated rind of one lemon with some sugar to a
stiff froth, skimming off the top as you whip. It may be prepared an hour
or two before dinner.
Until far into the
eighteenth century we were largely a nation of wine-drinkers. Joseph
Taylor, who visited us in 1707 and did not think much of us, observes that
one of the few good things in Scotland was "the excellent wine in every
place at 15d. per Quart, which tho' 'tis so cheap, I am satisfied will
mightily contribute to the impoverishment of the Scotch, if they continue
to drink the same quantity they do now, because they pay ready money for
it, and have but few Commodities to make a return". Lord Cockburn speaks
of having "heard Henry Mackenzie and other old people say that when a
cargo of claret came to Leith the common way of proclaiming its arrival
was by sending a hogshead of it through the town on a cart, with a horn;
and that anybody who wanted a sample, or a drink under pretence of a
sample, had only to go to the cart with a jug, which, without much nicety
about its size, was filled for a sixpence".
Those happy days came to an
end when Parliament imposed prohibitive duties on French wines.
Firm and erect the
Old was his mutton and his claret good.
"Let him drink port", an English statesman cried -
He drank the poison, and his spirit died.
The epigram is not quite
accurate. Epigrams seldom are. We never took to port, but rather gave up
drinking wine and did our best with our own beer and whisky.
The Scots, unlike the
English, make no boast of their brewing. They have no need; for, as a
Spanish poet said of good wine, "it is its own best testimonial". That the
great English beers are supreme of their kind is indisputable, but on the
other hand there is an unconscionable amount of bad beer in England, and
by bad we mean inherently bad. In this sense there is no bad beer in
Scotland, though you may get beer that has been ill kept or ill drawn, and
you may get no beer at all at the moment when you most want it. The great
English brewers recognise the uniform quality of Scotch beer and take
their Scotch trade seriously. Hence the bottled Bass or Allsop you drink,
when you can get it, in Glasgow or Edinburgh is a more heartening drink
than any contained in bottles bearing the same labels in London or
Manchester. How else could they compete with our MacEwans, our Ushers and
our Youngers? Edinburgh and Alloa provide the bulk of our native beers of
the true mouthgripping and gullet-soothing properties, and to Dalkeith
belongs the invention of green beer, which additionally soothes the eye.
Glasgow manufactures a special light Lager of which even Germans speak
with a reverence verging upon awe, not unmixed with envy. But there is no
home market for it. If you want to taste it you must ship yourself
somewhere east of Suez. At the other end of the scale there is what
represents the "yill" or "tippenny" of our ancestors, the so-called
"sweet" or "Scotch" ale. It is a noble liquor, ideal for cold weather,
especially when mulled. But remember that it is the same drink that Willie
brewed and Rab and Allan came to pree, and is therefore not to be trifled
with. According to Edward Burt, who was nothing if not critical of
Scotland, "this drink is of itself apt to give a diarrhoea, and therefore,
when the natives drink plentifully of it, they interlace it with brandy or
whisky". The accusation is malicious. All kinds of ale and beer are
laxative, which is a good thing, and Scottish brews have their fair share
of the general merit. Admittedly the practice of lacing them with strong
waters is an ancient, but it is not an honourable one. It is bad for the
beer, disgraceful to the whisky and ruinous to the drinker's stomach and
nervous system. It is a mode of drinking suitable only for navvies,
ironmoulders and Carlylean heroes.
And now, paulo majora
canamus, or touching the drinking of whisky. At home no Scotsman with
any self-respect will drink any of the "proprietary whiskies" so-called.
We do not suggest that they are unwholesome: they are in fact perfectly
safe and, when well diluted with soda-water, not unpalatable beverages,
which one may without shame drink south of the Tweed, where it is usually
impossible to get anything better. All that is wrong with them is that
they are not whisky. Their only title to the name is a legal fiction which
a well-meaning but ill-informed legislature has seen fit to impose on the
public. True whisky is made from malt by means of a pot-still, whereas,
most of the whiskies of commerce are patent-still spirit made from grain
blended with a little pot-still to mitigate its flavour. Patent, still
stuff is legitimately used for blending, and practically all blended
whiskies contain more or less; but no blend in which the pot-still does
not predominate deserves to be called whisky. The best blends, however,
are pure malt. The pity is that for some reason they have never been
popular and are in consequence scarce. But if you really would know the
glory of Scotch whisky, get by prayer or price a "single" unblended Islay,
Campbeltown or Highland. "I have never yet", says Mr Neil Gunn, "met any
blend of all malts or of malt and patent that had the individuality and
distinction of a perfect sample of "single whisky". These classic whiskies
are so numerous that Mr Aeneas Macdonald in his admirable little book,
Whisky, gives a rhymed guide to them as an aid to memory. He has been kind
enough to give us permission to reproduce it: [While we do not share Mr
Macdonald's low opinion of what he calls "crude doggerel", it is only fair
to record his note that this is "the work of a Sassenach poetaster" who
has "taken some liberties with Celtic pronunciation which may excite the
anger or derision of the Gael".]
TO THE HIGHLAND, ISLAY AND
CAMPBELTOWN MALT WHISKIES OF SCOTLAND
Name we first the brands
that rule in
Islay in the Western seas:
Bunnahabain and Laphroaig,
Once I (lucky fellow!) fell in
With a man who had Port Ellen!
Though, indeed, as good as these
Is Bowmore or Caol Ila,
Celtic witch and arch-beguiler,
Ard Beg, Malt Mill. And I shall
Surely drink more Lochindaal.
Last port seen by westering
'Twixt the tempest and the Gael,
Campbeltown in long Kintyre
Mothers there a son of fire,
Deepest-voiced of all the choir.
Solemnly we name this Hector
Of the West, this giant nectar:
Benmore, Scotia, and Rieclachan,
Kinloch, Springside, Hazelburn,
Glenside, Springbank, and Lochruan,
Lochhead. Finally, to spurn
Weaklings drunk and cowards sober.
Summon we great Dalintober.
Children of the Highland
Product of the Highland stills,
Now's no hour to ponder faults,
Toy with test-tubes, sniff at malts,
Open-chested must we sing:
Away with care-the drink's the thing!
Fearing neither sir nor madam,
Praise we Dufftown and Glencadam.
Wanderer over hill and moor,
Weary, welcomes Edradour,
Purchasing new strength to loin
With Glendronach or Glengoyne,
Glenlochie, or ripe Strath Dee,
Cragganmore and Benachie.
Pious priest at mass or matin
'Mid the murmur of his Latin,
Thinks of Mortlach or Tomatin,
Sinning so, but is there any
Sin in dreaming of Balvenie,
Brackla, Millburn or Glenfiddich,
Cardow, Banff, or Teaninich?
Sailor after months of sailing,
Fishing, yachting, cruising, whaling,
Hears the joyous cry of "land oh!"
Thirsts at once for choice Knockando.
Let the magistracy glower,
Let the law put forth its power,
He will drink the good Inchgower,
Tamdhu, Parkmore, Aberlour,
And damnation to the funny
Tribes of ocean in Dalwhinnie,
Drink until the stars go out.
Not for us such deep-sea bout.
Quite tipplers in our class
Are content with Glenfarclas,
Nor does fancy with us soar
Far beyond sound Convalmore,
Oban, Colburn or Dalmore,
With mayhap a straying wish
Towards Glen Elgin or Clyne Lish.
Hopeful nephew bound to see
Wealthy and repulsive aunt
(Shadows of a legacy)
Should equip him with Glen Grant,
He will find the interview
Smoother sailing on Knockdhu,
When debate grows overheated,
Chairs thrown down and men unseated,
To restore both law and order
Bring in Dlaas Dhu, Glen Cawdor,
Speyburn, Longmorn, or Strathmill.
Quick the tempest will be still
And sweet reason reign again
With the flow of Dailuaine.
If an angel unawares
Your domestic table shares,
You will not be wrong to give it
Tumblers of the real Glenlivet!
Serious poets, short of rhymes
As we all may be at times,
For ars longa, vita brevis -
Woo the muse with good Ben Nevis,
Though the wench will come no less
For Glengarrioch or Stromness,
Scapa or fine Highland Park,
Lighteners of Orcadian dark.
Men will talk most brilliant bosh
On a diet of Ferintosh,
Argue, with emphatic oaths,
Black is yellow on Glenrothes,
Prove that four and four make nine
If encouraged by Glenfyne,
And, in paradoxic fury,
Square the circle with Glenurie,
Converts have been made, they say,
To some quite grotesque belief
By Strath Isla and Glenspey
And Glenturret (made in Crieff).
Cunning preachers rope the sullen
Heathen folk in with Glendullan.
In melee or collieshangie
Glentauchers or Glenmorangie
Timid mortals will inspire
With a high heroic ire,
Though their sudden fits of wrath'll
Quickly pass before Blair Atholl.
Leaders of the hopeless charge
Rallying for one assault more,
Should have come equipped with large
Flasks of Pulteney or of Aultmore
Or at least another score
Liquors veterans will think good:
Isla, Ben Romach, Glen Mohr,
Balmenach, Glenburgie, Linkwood,
North Port, Angus-reared at Brechin,
Aberfeldy or Ballechin.
While the vanquished in the fray,
Fleeing to the nearest bar,
Counsel take with Auchenblae,
Comfort seek in Lochnagar,
And, when human courage fails,
Stronachie the foe assails.
Scholar, drinking with a lout,
Knocked his boon companion out,
Bawling egotistically, "Shall an
Imbecile enjoy Macallan?
Craigellachie and Imperial
Are designed for souls aetherial!"
Sad that academic rage
Should pollute my peaceful page;
Class and faction I abhor on
Towiemore or Ord-Glenoran;
Ragged cap and top-hat glossy
Meet as equals on Glenlossie,
Bury hatchets in a hurry
In Glenugie or Glenmoray,
Talisker or Milton-Duff
(Damned be he cries, "Hold, enough!")
Rounding off at last the story
(Highland section) put we Finis
With Glen Albyn, Tobermory,
Glenglassauch, and Benrinnes.
If you would truly enjoy whisky, lay to
heart these simple precepts:
1. Failing a "single"
whisky from a classic still and unless you are in its native district you
may find such hard to come by-get a good blend. That is not difficult.
Every good-class wine merchant in Scotland has one. Take your choice and
stick to it.
2. Have nothing to do with
a whisky that has not a cast-iron guarantee of being at least five years
old. About ten years of age whisky reaches perfection. After fifteen it
3. Don't be misled by the
description "liqueur whisky". There is, strictly speaking, no such thing.
The term is used to suggest, without actually saying so, that the whisky
in question is above ordinary strength. It may be, or on the other hand it
may not. If you must have a Scottish liqueur there is Drambuie, which some
people prefer to Benedictine.
4. On no account
contaminate good whisky with soda or any other mineral water. If you must
dilute it, plain water-spring water if possible-is best, as Pindar
5. Lastly, don't let your
appreciation get the better of your discretion. It is often said that good
whisky never did anybody any harm, but the statement requires some
qualification. Est modus in rebus, or, to quote a bit of wisdom
overheard in an Angus tavern: "Moderation, sir, aye moderation is my rule.
Nine or ten is reasonable refreshment, but aifter that it's apt to
degenerate intae drinkin'."
There are many helpful compounds in which
whisky is the principal ingredient. The most celebrated of these is, of
The many ways of making it are all good for
those who like it, but you can be content with this way.
Put a pound of dripped
honey in a basin and add enough cold water to dissolve it (about a
teacupful). Stir with a silver spoon, and when the water and the honey are
well mixed, add gradually one and a half pints of whisky. Stir briskly
till a froth begins to rise. Bottle and keep tightly corked. If liked, the
old fashion may be followed of pouring the liquor over a little oatmeal
from which it is afterwards strained.
Thoroughly warm a tumbler
and a glass jug or bowl. Sugar to taste a glassful of boiling water and
pour into the jug. When the sugar is quite dissolved put in half a glass
of whisky and stir with a silver spoon. Then add more boiling water, and
finally another half glass of whisky. Thin slices of lemon can be added,
but the chief points are warm vessels, and mixing by putting in the water
and whisky turn about.
AULD MAN'S MILK
This is a good morning
draught if you are heroic or depraved enough to want such a thing. Beat
separately the yolks and whites of half a dozen eggs. Put to the yolks
sugar, a quart of milk and half a pint of whisky. Next add the whites and
stir gently. Flavour with nutmeg or lemon. (Rum or brandy may be used
instead of whisky.)
For Highland Cordial you
must mix a pint of white currants, a bottle of whisky, some thin lemon
peel, a teaspoonful of essence of ginger. Allow the mixture to stand for
forty-eight hours, after which you strain it, add a pound of loaf sugar
and again leave it alone for another day. Bottle and cork. It will be fit
to drink in about three months.
1¾ oz gentian root
½ oz orange peel
and bruise in a mortar with
1 oz of coriander seed
½ oz. of cloves
¼ oz of cinnamon stick.
Put in an earthenware jar
and empty two bottles of whisky over it. Keep the jar closely covered from
the air for a fortnight, then strain and bottle. This makes a warming
short dram after a day's exposure to the elements. It also goes well in
the knapsack for emergencies. But it ought to be kept for emergencies when
taken out-of-doors. A little goes a long way down.
Grate a nutmeg into two
quarts of mild ale brought to the boil. To a little cold ale add sugar and
three well-beaten eggs. Mix slowly to the hot ale. Add half a pint of
whisky and bring the whole to boil again. Pour briskly from one vessel to
the other till smooth and bright. If you are rich enough to follow the Old
Style you should use light wine and brandy instead of ale and whisky.
One ounce of oil of
cinnamon is dropped on 2½ pounds of bruised loaf sugar, a gallon of good
whisky is added, and when the sugar has dissolved the liquor is filtered
To these whisky compounds
we add two recipes for rum punch-one old and one new.
For a poetical description
we refer you to Lockhart's "Lament for Captain Paton" which is among our
"Lucky Numbers" further back. But prose is more serviceable, viz:
To each tumblerful of punch
allow one tablespoonful of icing-sugar, one lemon, one wineglassful of rum
and about three-quarters of a tumbler of water. Dissolve the sugar with a
little water in the punch-bowl, strain the lemon juice into this, add the
water and mix thoroughly. In the just mixing of the sherbet, as this
liquor is called, lies the secret of success. Now add the rum. Should
limes be available, use less lemon, and after the rum is added, cut the
limes and run each section round the inside rim of the bowl, squeezing in
enough of the juice to flavour the whole without making it too acid.
[Mr W. G. Burn-Murdoch's
recipe, which has been greatly appreciated by foreigners,
Sassenachs, etc., visiting his hospitable house on festive occasions.]
Rub the rinds of five
lemons with lump sugar, using half a pound of the sugar. Put the lemony
sugar in a bowl, add a bottle of old rum, then the strained juice of the
lemons, and mix well. Put in a piece of cinnamon stick, and pour on the
boiling water, stirring all the time.
By way of a worthy
conclusion we give a noble recipe for
THE HOGMANAY WASSAIL BOWL
Simmer the following spices
in a teacupful of water -
Mace, Nutmeg, Cloves,
Ginger, Cardamums, Coriander seed, Cinnamon
allowing for each bottle of
wine 10 grains of mace, 46 grains of cloves, 37 grains of cardamums, 28
grains of cinnamon, 12 grains of nutmeg, 48 grains of ginger and 49 grains
of coriander seed.
Add the mixed spices to
two, four or six bottles of port, sherry or madeira, allowing 1½ pounds of
loaf sugar (pounded) for 4 bottles, and set all on the fire in a clean
bright saucepan; meanwhile have the yolks of 12 and the whites of 6 fresh
eggs well whisked up separately and put in the wassail bowl. When the
spiced, sugared wine is warm, take out one teacupful at a time till you
have a third and add it to the eggs. Add the remaining two-thirds when it
comes to the boil, but without letting it actually boil, pouring it in
very gradually and whipping all the time to get a good froth, partly mixed
through but mainly on the top. When all the wine is in, toss in 12 fine,
soft-roasted apples. Send the whole up hot with a ladle.