16 March 2007

Highland cuisine

The Highland manservant of John Burnet of Barns is asked to give his own account of the diverse Scots dishes he can prepare, in a novel set in the 17th century Highlands at the time of the Covenanters:

'Your master gives me a good account of you,' said the cracked voice of the laird of Smitwood, 'and I would fain hope it true. I wished to interrogate you about - ah, your powers - ah, of cooking pleasing dishes,' and he waved his hand deprecatingly.

'Oh, your honour, I am ready for a'thing,' said Nicol. 'Sheep's heid, singit to a thocht, cockyleeky and a' kind o' soup, mutton in half a dozen different ways, no to speak o' sic trifles as confections. I can cook ye the flesh o' the red deer and the troots frae the burn, forbye haggis and brose, partan pies and rizzard haddies, crappit-heids and scate-rumples, nowt's feet, kebbucks, scadlips, and skink. Then I can wark wi' custocks and carlings, rifarts and syboes, farles, fadges, and bannocks, drammock, brochan, and powsowdie'

'That will do, you may go,' said the old man, rubbing his hands with glee. 'By my word, a genuine Scots gastronome, skilled in the ancient dishes of the land. I anticipate a pleasing time while he bides here'

- From 'John Burnet of Barns' by John Buchan, 1898.

[Crappit-heads and scate-rumples for tea, anyone? Incidentally, Buchan was a highly talented chap. He wrote this swashbuckling adventure tale when he was only 19. He also later went on to write 'The Thirty-Nine Steps', which was filmed three times including, most famously, by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935. In his later years, as the first Baron Tweedsmuir, Buchan became the Governor General of Canada from 1935 until his death in 1940]

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