Food in Scotland – What The Hell Happened?!?

Scottish food is "interesting"

Let’s just preface this post with a statement: I love Scotland. Honestly I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the time I have spent in Scotland, especially the highlands and the Isle of Skye which I maintain is one of my favourite places in Europe. Recently I spent around 4 weeks touring the country; sleeping in the back of a van and making my way around the place from Edinburgh all the way up through the highlands and its Northern Isles then back down again through Glasgow and the many Lochs. I love the desolate ruggedness of the highlands and the mystery and brooding silence of the lochs. In short, Scotland is fantastic.. However there’s just one glaring and obvious problem with Scotland… The Food.

While they don’t eat bats or blend up frogs, food in Scotland is generally so bad that I’m actually really surprised that scurvy isn’t more of a problem. Now I’m no up-tight health freak, I love food as much as the next guy especially a good greasy burger but you know what I also love to eat..?? Salads.. green things, apples, spinach, peas… perhaps a few grapes, maybe a little pumpkin or broccoli..

That’s not too much to ask is it?

As far as I can tell the average Scottish diet revolves around starting with something horribly unhealthy and then deep frying it for at least 2 hours before adding chips and finally washing everything down with more alcohol than Genghis Khan could point a battle-axe at.

Walk into any Scottish food court or local eatery area and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled onto the set for the next season of The Biggest Loser. McDonalds, fish and chips, Burger King, pizza, fish and chips, pizza, chips, wedges, fish and chips, KFC… god dammit! Where’s the fresh food? Where’s the local produce? The edible colours of Scotland laid out in front of me in a bouquet of aromas, colours and textures…??!?

I JUST DON’T GET IT!!

Scotland has an abundance of amazing produce. Deer strut the countryside bold as you like, the rivers are full of salmon, there’s good quality beef and enough lobster to make Jehovah cry.. and that’s before even going into the fresh local veggies and berries that are abundant, in the countryside, particularly in the lowlands. This sort of thing could so easily be sold all over the place at local markets like they do so well in London

Scottish Highlands - Long Term Travel
The Stunning Scottish Highlands

Yet, the Scott’s eat a diet that is so full of salt, fat, calories, sugar and alcohol that it’s no wonder that heart disease is as about as common as rain in Scotland.

A quick stroll through the streets of Glasgow can be an enlightening culinary experience. Fish and Chip shops (chippies) dot the cityscape boasting almost as many square feet as Glasgow’s Pubs (and that’s impressive). But don’t let the name fool you; these ‘fine centres of Scottish cuisine’ offer their patrons far more than just your run-of-the-mill fish and chips…

Deep Fried Mars Bars - Scotland Long Term Travel
The Deep Fried Mars Bar – Enjoy!

My Food in Scotland Deep-Fried Guide: My top 3 deep-fried Scottish delicacies

1) Mars Bars: So this one started as a novelty item in shops but has been so successful that it’s actually stuck around.. wow, take the most unhealthy thing ever, then deep fry it. Weirdly Mars released this statement about the trend when it first appeared: “deep-frying one of our products would go against our commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles.” Which means that apparently Mars Inc have some bizarre misconception that by eating a Mars Bar you’re partaking in an active and healthy lifestyle… riiiiiggghhhttt..

Deep Fried Pizza - Scotland Long Term Travel
Deep Fried Pizza! Just Wow..

2) Pizza: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, along comes deep fried pizza; and.. it’s not even a nice pizza! It’s generally just reheated supermarket frozen pizza that’s been battered and stuck in a vat of boiling oil. Sounds more like some form of medieval siege defence than something you voluntarily pay for, then consume.

3) Butter: Yep that’s right, BUTTER! Sick of your average, every day serving of pure fat? Well why not deep fry it instead? What could possibly go wrong.. I’ve eaten some weird shit in my time but these ‘coronary balls’ might take the cake.. or rather, the defibrillator.

I think the moral of the story here is that apparently if it’s not fried, battered or served with chips, it’s basically not on the Scottish menu.. Which just blows my mind; given just how easily good quality local produce could make its way from the crisp streams and fields of the countryside into the mouths of the population.

Anyway as long as you don’t have a heart condition (yet) you may as well experiment while you’re in the country, well that was my logic anyway.. Where else are you going to have the chance to eat 6 million calories in a single meal?

“Three Deep fried butterballs please!!”

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8 Comment

  1. Michelle says: Reply

    It kind of sounds like America. Everywhere you go there are fast food joints. I should know, I’ve never lived anywhere else. I figured everywhere else ate healthier than us.

    1. Pete says: Reply

      Western problems all round really. Theres a change happening though, I think the days of big chains are dying in the west, or at least I hope so.

  2. Katie says: Reply

    Just had to comment about the fact that this article is a mass of generalisations. I am one of many Scots who eat healthily, but occasionally indulges (like any person!) I don’t think you’ve seen all that Scotland has to offer, we have some wonderful food and restaurants just waiting to be sampled.

    1. Pete says: Reply

      Hi Katie, thanks for the comment. I’ve actually seen quite a lot of Scotland and i’m certainly not saying that it’s impossible to eat well there, what i’m more trying to get at is the face that there is so much good food/produce in Scotland (as you’re obviously very aware) and yet the diet for the average person is still dreadful. In my experience it’s also harder than many other places to track the better food down on short notice as you travel the country. Yes it’s a stereotype but in my experience the average Scots diet is rather dreadful especially given the relatively easy access to quality food you guys do have (I mention this in the post). Do you buy much produce locally? I’m pretty sure if I was living in Scotland all id try and eat would be the game! 🙂

  3. Monika says: Reply

    That sounds horrible. I don’t understand why Slovaks complain about unhealthy food everywhere. Fastfoods are usually only in bigger cities, there are basically no pre-made foods in shops and many people plant their own vegetables and fruit. Many people don’t even buy eggs or meat. They preferably kill a pig and call everyone on the feast, haha. But Scotland fascinates me either, I wanna visit it one day!

  4. WE HAVE DIABETES AND WE ARE PROUD – Macadie
    fat and happy – Nikita

  5. Bacon is good for me. Chicken Nuggets is like my family. EAt dat watermelon. Chicken fried rice, chicken balls and stir fried rice. UH. chicken winggggg

  6. Ash says: Reply

    Hey, the reason our ‘food courts’ are so unhealthy etc is because they’re made for American Tourists. Tourism used to be a massive industry in Scotland so large that local food places changed what they offered into the American’s favourite food. If you walk into a shop or market you’ll find perfectly healthy food.

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