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My Scholarship entry - Understanding a Culture through Food

WORLDWIDE | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | Views [361] | Scholarship Entry

There's much to be said for a culture that considers congealed blood a breakfast food.

I pushed my cornflakes to the side with poorly cloaked reluctance, pulling a white plate of smeared grease and suety black patties toward me. It was the first of many meals on my road trip through Scotland that would challenge me mentally and gastro-intestinally.

My tummy, after eight months spent savouring the nation's delights, even growls with a rough, Scotch brogue. Remedy? A hissing glass of the ever ubiquitous dentist's nightmare and the Scot's solution to any perceptible ailment, Irn Bru. The only nation in the world where a nationally produced soft drink outsells the major cola companies, a carbonated 'up yours' to the rest of the world.

We head for the Highlands. My digestive distress is dampened to a dull roar by the molecular energy of lolling countryside, centuries of Scottish stories trodden into the wet peat.

By morning tea, we were in Pitlochry and the same carnivorous brutes who welcomed the day with an affray of fried creatures, pour into exquisite tea rooms. Doe eyed, they wipe their boots at the door and gush over lace doilies, pyramids of perfectly crafted scones, homemade jams and just-right tea with the heartfelt husky thankyous that melt the butter on your knife.

This is an eclectic food culture of belly hugging stodge that knows no class, no caste, no creed.

We stop in a tiny town, chimneys and crooked bricks and climbing roses, old men in tartan berets. Lunch is Scotch broth. It's hearty, rough, satisfying and overwhelmingly meaty. The steam from our bowls curls and licks at the frozen glass. There's a warming fondness, as if every face is familiar.

Early evening and we've followed our bellies from one end of the country to the other. Toes at the edge of the world. The hills behind us girt by foreboding slate cloud, a soft white mist lays thick in the glen. I lament for the frozen hills of my bloodline and the warmth of the haggis neeps and tatties waiting for us back at the lodge.

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012

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