If the only thing you think of when someone mentions Scottish food is deep-fried Mars bars and macaroni baked into a pie-crust, then you’ll be in for a shock on a Scottish cruise. On your journey down the Caledonian Canal, our on-board chef likes to celebrate the excellent local cuisine and – I promise you – there won’t be a Mars Bar in sight. |
Of course, in a nation that has rivers bursting with wild salmon, vast estates full of deer, sheep and cattle (not to mention grouse, pheasants and partridges), it’s ridiculous to imagine that the late night chip shops of the cities offer the best of its cuisine. Our Scottish cruise along the canal – which runs from Inverness in the east to Fort William in the west – meanders through some of the most beautiful, fertile countryside in Scotland, with access to some of its freshest, local ingredients.
Ingredients Fit for Royalty
Traditionally the aristocracy of both England and Scotland have looked to the rural parts of Scotland to provide some of its most exclusive ingredients. Whether it was the succulent meat of venison or the Aberdeen Angus, the fresh salmon of its rivers or the lobsters, crabs, scallops, mussels and shrimps caught off its coast, Scotland has long been considered a larder for the top tables of the British Isles.
Hearty Scotch Fare
But it’s not just the rich and famous who have enjoyed the wealth of excellent food on offer north of the border. Traditional Scottish dishes like haggis, Scotch broth, and Cullen skink have all found fame the world over.
Many visitors to Scotland are a little intimidated by what could be considered the country’s national dish: haggis. It is made from minced sheep’s liver, heart and oatmeal all mixed together with a variety of spices before being stuffed into a sheep’s stomach. It may not sound too appetising, but believe me there’s a good reason why the Scottish eat this tasty treat. If you’re feeling adventurous give it a try – it really is delicious served with the customary neeps and tatties (mashed spiced turnip or swede and mashed potato with nutmeg). Once you’ve discovered a love of haggis, you might want to try black pudding too.
Another rustic treat worth trying while you’re on your Scottish cruise is the traditional haddock soup known as Cullen skink. Made from smoked haddock, onions and potato, it’s a warming treat after a brush with the Scottish weather. For a hearty meaty soup which is more like a stew, try a Scotch broth. Traditionally made with mutton, but now often found using lamb, the soup is bulked out with barley and fresh root vegetables. Try these famous soups, or any other Scottish dish, served with traditional local bannocks (stove-top bread made from grain) or oatcakes (a savoury biscuit made from oat flour).
On your Scottish cruise you’ll discover that the food of Scotland is, like the landscape, honest, wholesome and rustic – it makes a wonderful discovery, full of unexpected flavours.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury river cruises and barge holidays throughout Europe. If you're looking for the most exciting Scottish cruise, or itineraries in other exciting destinations, European Waterways is the ideal choice. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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