Friday, November 26, 2004

i'm back, baby!

hello, remember me? sorry i've not been posting, like, at all, but i've been pretty busy and well, if i'm honest, lazy too! i promised to inform you all about various cultural aspects of aberdeen and scotland in general. eric has been pretty good with it all, learning new words and experiencing new things like bonfire night and er, dog biscuits (we don't all eat dog biscuits and/or feed them to US exchange students, honestly!) and it's pretty cool how he's doing that in an open way while still remaining true to his roots by celebrating thanksgiving and things too. i'm very proud of him. (please infer a bucketload of mock-patronising onto those last few sentences). so, eric's info on scotland is bang-on so far but i thought i'd add my ten cents worth (eric says it's two cents- man, i'm still a FOB even back in scotland).

[the following is an extract from a lecture on scottish culture. you have been warned!]

if any of you know eric or myself, you know we love food and the simple pleasure that it brings us. mmmm...food. scotland has a lot to offer both in terms of its own cuisine and in terms of cuisines from around the world that are available. ok, aberdeen does not have sushi yet (you have to go to glasgow for that) but we have a lot of good indian restaurants and takeaways and chinese food is also widely available here. a new one to arrive since i left for america, though, is thai food- it has finally made it to aberdeen! which is good for me as that was my favorite in america. (come on, sushi, you can make it!) we have of course, italian food which is very popular with students and people eating at home as well as out, but the british nation's favorite food is the curry, chicken tikka masala to be exact. so there is diversity to be had, its not like this is a mono-cultural wasteland or anything (in case you were wondering). we don't have an international district yet by any means, but it's pretty good nonetheless.

but what of our own dishes, i hear you cry? (some people call it tintinus) well, we're no france by any means but we do have a nice if modest range of dishes, both sweet and savoury. those which are specifically scottish (as opposed to those british dishes we have in common with england, wales and so on like roast beef, crumble and custard) are either ridiculously sweet (we have a famously sweet tooth) or very bad for you (we are proud owners of the highest rate of heart disease, adult onset diabetes and every other bad food related disease in europe) or both sweet and bad for you (see the invention of the deep-fried mars bar). so, a lot of our favorite food is deep fried (fish and chips, chips, chips and chips). we love chips (not US chips which we call crisps, but more of a fatter freedom-fry), whether in the home, at the pub (with mayonnaise and cheese- a local delicacy much loved by myself and thousands of aberdonians), after a night out (accompanied by a kebab if you're male or enjoy food poisoning), or from the chip shop. eric and i live right next door to officially one of the best chippers (scottish slang) in the country which is quite a mixed blessing-it's nice and handy but temptingly so!!! chip-shop chips are traditonally served with fish (which is battered) and both are deep fried in beef dripping. it isn't exactly good for the figure but covered in salt, vinegar and slathered in ketchup it is divine! if you are ever in our capital, edinburgh, and go to a chippy (alternative scottish slang) you will asked if you would like "saut an sauce" or "salt [self-explanatory] and sauce". this "sauce" is unique to edinburgh and the surrounding area and is not to be missed if you get the chance. chippy sauce is hard to explain, unless you know what brown sauce (or "broon" or HP or daddy sauce - these are all pretty much interchangeable terms which i won't go into here) is. they have brown sauce throughout the uk and probably in canada too but what makes it chippy sauce is the additon of extra vinegar to make it runny enough to coat the chips. it is SO good, but you just have to trust me on that!!!

so many things here are also good to eat and worth trying but i won't go into detail here- you'll just have to try them when you come over, as there's no substitute for that! my mum taught me to cook quite a few of these growing up and i'm very grateful for that. much of our cuisine revolves around lamb mince and potatoes or "munce and tahtties" which is also a simple dish in itself and even appears in a popular children's song (the intrigingly titled "No, you cannae [cannot] shove your granny off a bus") . pretty much everyone here grew up eating it-a sort of scottish meat-loaf idea. so we like our food stodgy and hearty, no salads here. they arrived pretty late on, along with the other non-local food. in our defence, its not exactly like we can grow tomatoes in this climate or anything. potatoes, turnips and sheep if you're lucky and that's about your lot. so scottish food has come out of the cold, harsh climate, the need to get as many calories as cheaply as possible (thanks to that harsh climate) and our no-nonsense national temperament (probably ditto!). the sweet things, dear to our hearts for these very reasons, range from coconut ice (grated coconut and so much sugar you couldn't imagine, dyed pink), tablet (butter and sugar: like sugary fudge that's brittle and grainy as the sugar is not heated to such a high temperature and so doesn't bid as closely), macaroons and cinder toffee (or puff candy) to our national drink: irn bru. the explanantion of which i think i'll leave that til next time to keep you in suspense! (or so this thing is not the same length as my thesis, i just have so much to lecture you on, i mean share with you all...i didn't even get onto pies, chocolate bars or anything!!!)

til then, adieu...

[there will be a test on this material]

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