November 24, 2010
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To badly paraphrase a P.J. Harvey record, and whilst walking the dog one evening, I wondered about the food history of Edinburgh and the food that has been made famous here. There are a significant number of Scottish dishes that we all know and love, from haggis to deep-fried Mars bars, and the outstanding quality of the produce you can find is second to none but what is Auld Reckie famous for?
My mind almost instantly turned to a couple of things: chippie sauce on your fish supper and Cock-o-Leekie soup. Even then I only really know Cock-o-Leekie soup as an Edinburgh dish because it has local twist to it: adding whisky. There is also a variant on oatcakes, that get called ‘Midlothian Oatcakes’, which are not as heavy on the oats, and use flour in the recipe producing a crisper texture. Of course, lest we forget that you can get Edinburgh Rock, but for the most part that’s all I could find. Chippie Sauce doesn’t really count as a ‘recipe’, although it is a strange Edinburgh custom. It’s a mixture of Brown Sauce and Malt Vinegar, and a fish supper would be poorer without it. I once mistakenly asked for it in London and got Kebab sauce. You live and learn.
Even consulting the bible of Scottish Cooking – The Scots Kitchen: Its Traditions and Lore with Old-time Recipes – Florence Marian McNeill, first published in 1929 and probably the Scottish equivalent to the Silver Spoon, did not really yield any more results. There is also another book, Edinburgh ‘A La Carte’ – The history of food in Edinburgh – but I think I will need to root round the second-hand bookshops to have any luck in finding. I did eventually find one other dish, something which I have not heard of before and certainly not tried – Edinburgh Fog. It sounds like a play on cranachan, but I hope that it might be tasty with the almonds.
300ml double cream
30g castor (fine granulated) sugar
50g small almond ratafia biscuits (macaroon biscuits are a normally substituted for these)
Drambuie / Whisky to taste
30g flaked almonds
Whip the cream until it is stiff and fold in the sugar, almond essence and whisky. Crush the macaroon biscuits, and mix well with the cream. Serve well chilled as a luxury dessert. Sprinkle the almonds over the desert before serving.
What other dishes do you know that originate in Edinburgh? What other dishes should I try? Do you like Edinburgh Fog? Do you have a copy of Edinburgh ‘A La Carte’?