Sunday, July 02, 2006

Scotland: pt. 1

Last month I went to Scotland for my sister's graduation. It was probably my best vacation in in years- much better than China, though unfortunately also more expensive. But my parents were paying, so I didn't have to worry about any of that. (That's Edinburgh castle, btw, the old capital of Scotland)

My favorite part of the trip was the beer. According to my guide book, all Americans really drink is lager, not *real* beer. Traditionally, Scots mostly drank ale. Ale is much darker than lager, and much much more flavorful. After filling up on ale in Scotland the beer back home in the US tasted at best bland, at worst chemical.
Every place had its own local ales, though there were some that were popular everywhere. My favorite was heather ale, made from heather flowers. Another favorite, called Caledonian 80, was creamy and had a bitter-sweet taste that reminded me of chocolate milk. Another one I tried was made with kelpie, though that didn't really work for me.
Unfortunately I didn't get many chance to try whiskey, though I had a few. Jack is still my fave.
As for food, I also thought it was much better than people make it out to be. A lot of good seafood, especially salmon, and good beef, though sadly I never got a chance to try Angus. I did try the infamous haggis. Haggis is basically lamb boiled in its own stomach. Lamb liver, heart and kidneys, and maybe other bits, are chopped up, mixed with oats or other grains and spices, stuffed into a lamb stomach and then boiled. One Scottish poet and fan- I think Robert Burns- compared it to "bare buttocks," and in original form there is certainly a semblance- though I'd say they look more like rotten bare buttocks (that's a pic of haggis, along with blood sausage). Anyway, they are served outside the stomach, so it just looked like chopped meat. And it was tasty, like peppery mashed up burger. Aside from haggis I also liked toasties, which is basically glorified grilled cheese, though crispier; and steak and ale pies, and what they call bacon burgers, which were heavier on the bacon than the burger. The problem with Scottish food is that they didn't have any vegetables. I'm surprised I didn't gain like 10 pounds over that vacation from eating all that meat.

No comments: