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Indigenous Scottish Foods

topic posted Sat, February 4, 2006 - 3:09 PM by  Ben
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Seeing how everyone here is well versed in historic food, perhaps I'm hoping someone can help with my question.

What food items are native to Scotland?

I'm aware of the Scottish traditional meals generally surrounding meats, dairy, oats, and root vegetables. However, being that I'm vegan, and I enjoy trying to whip up original or semi-original dishes, it would be nice to know what else commonly grew in Scotland in yesteryear.

My ancestors came largely from the British Isles(English, Irish, and Scottish) with some also coming from Germany, and possibly Holland. As tasty as world cuisine is, sometimes I really have a craving to make things with flavours that my forefathers might have had (even though they probably ate them as sides with their butter battered leg of lamb).

So, to reiterate, anything edible, that traditionally grew in Scotland, say before 1700, and is not animal related (oils, nuts, grains, veggies, fruit, herbs, and spices) would be great.

Here is my list so far and hopefully others can add:

Grains:

Oats
Barley
Rye
Wheat

Nuts:

I've heard all nuts were imports?

Oils:

Olive Oil?

Veggies:

Carrots
Parsnips
Potatoes
Turnips
Leeks
Onions
Rhubarb
Kale
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Burdock Root
Rape Root
Garlic
Carageen
Dulse
Celery
Hawthorn Berries

Fruit:

Apples
Plums
Pears
Strawberries
Sloes
Raspberries
Tayberries
Brambles

Herbs:

Stinging Nettle
Parsley
Thyme
Coriander
Dill
Opium Poppy
Summer Savoury
Rosemary?

Spices:

Salt
Pepper
Ginger
Cinnamon
Cloves
Nutmeg
Mace
Sage

Sweetners:

Honey
Treacle (molasses)

Thanks in advance.
posted by:
Ben
offline Ben
Maryland
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  • Re: Indigenous Scottish Foods

    Sat, February 4, 2006 - 5:16 PM
    Oh! I feel for you! I think as a vegan, you're doomed to a fairly limited and rather dull selection of "traditional" Scottish foods.

    Many of the spices you list have never been "grown" in Scotland and, while available and popular well before 1700 as expensive imports, are not native to the area. These would include pretty much your entire list with the exception of sage (which is actually an herb) Olive oil is another thing that could never be considered native (climate is wrong). As far as I'm aware, traditional Scottish fats have always been animal in origin (butter, bacon fat, cooking fat from other meat). Flax seed remains have been documented at prehistoric Scottish sites in regions like Ayrshire and you might consider flax seed oil, although the taste is not something I care for. Hazelnuts are also well documented, so you could incorporate these into your cooking.

    Among salad vegetables you might want to include borage, which was used extensively, as well as sorrel, purslane, dandelion leaves, and watercress. Roses petals are also something that was occasionally used in salads and rosewater was used frequently as a flavoring.

    Hope this helps.
    • Re: Indigenous Scottish Foods

      Mon, February 6, 2006 - 9:18 AM
      well i just joined this tribe and what the hey i see a vegan! yay. well im a cook and ive done a lot of cooking of vegan medieval foods from nothern europe and its far from boring or limited.

      needless to say most foods that you mention hav non scottish origins

      id suggest play around with recipies a lot more. i make a pea recipe which should be in the forme of cury www.pbm.com/~lindahl/foc/ a cinnamon var. you might add mint?

      also sage oat cakes are amazing...

      i think spelt made it there and you cant go wrong with a bread sauce! other herbs could be lovage... but ppl also used natives such as mallow, hawthorn, juniper and even pine tree resin... once you get into the wild species there its amazing what you can use. dont forget mushrooms!

      have you tried silver birch wine? hey and elderflower cant be forgotten! talkig of flowers... borage flowers...yum, yum

      i imagine that sweet chestnut was around in the 17th century.

      sorry for random reply... will work up a list of other stuff...
  • Re: Indigenous Scottish Foods

    Mon, February 6, 2006 - 11:18 PM
    Lots of good advice in this thread!

    Sadly, you'll have to delete potatoes from your list, as these are from the New World and didn't become widespread in Europe or the British Isles until the 19th century (hence the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 19th century).

    You might take a look at this collection of posts on medieval Scottish food, particularly toward the end where fruits, vegetables, and herbs are discussed:

    www.florilegium.org/files/FO...-msg.html

    A great way to learn more about vegan dishes in medieval European cooking is to look for "lenten" recipes--during the Lent period (also called "ember days"), people were supposed to avoid meat and dairy products. (I believe eggs were forbidden then as well, though I'd have to check on that.) They didn't consider fish to be meat, however, so you'll have to exclude the seafood dishes from some of these lenten recipes, but they did find many ingenious ways of avoiding dairy products. For example, almond milk was a very common ingredient in these recipes. I doubt that almonds were native to Scotland, though, but they probably imported them, and they may have done a lot more with native "nutmeats," like hazelnuts, as someone has already suggested.