FINE DINING: GLASGOW-STYLE
Studying in Scotland, Troy Farkas takes your taste buds for a ride.
I think it’s time to address question I know all of you have wanted the answer since my arrival to Glasgow in the wee days of September.
“What’s the food like?”
Ah, I’m so glad you asked.
I don’t know about you, but thoughts of food consume my mind 24 hours, seven days a week. Yes, food is even in my dreams.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I like to live by a number of cliché quotations. Perhaps my favorite is one I came up with all by myself.
“Live life in between the meals.”
It’s safe to say I am always thinking about food. After I finish a meal I always speculate what my next nutritious and heart-warming plate will consist of.
The Scots are no different than Americans in terms of how much we love our food. However, thanks to egregiously large portions sizes and steadily increasing obesity rates, it’s fair to say Americans love food too much. I’ve noticed in the United Kingdom that portion sizes are smaller, although they cost the same price as a larger American meal would.
While I don’t eat out that often because grocery shopping is healthier and more economical, I’ve made it a priority to sample the staples of the Scottish cuisine. If you’re not hungry right now, you will be in a few moments.
The “national dish” of Scotland is haggis. You can find it in most restaurants throughout Scotland. It is a Scottish sausage made from a sheep’s stomach, liver, and heart often mixed together with onions, oats, and other spices. It can be eaten in a variety of ways, however it’s usually found in between two buns in the form of an “American” burger. I ate it one time and didn’t think much of it. It tasted like a less-enticing version of chili. I ordered vegetarian haggis rather than the real thing, so I didn’t have the true haggis experience.
Another food I’m not a huge fan? Meat pies. Imagine the crust of that warm apple pie your mother makes for Thanksgiving. Instead of the sweetness of cinnamon apples inside the crust, a Scot will put steak or beef. Many of my friends adore the meat pies. I’ve tried it once, but it was on a day when I was sick, so nothing tasted good to me then.
I’ve also yet to eat black pudding, a type of sausage made from the blood of pigs. Sorry, not interested and there is nothing you can say that will make that sound appealing.
Despite my lack of appreciation for these Scottish cuisines, there is one food (although more British than just Scottish) I adore and intend to bring with me to the United States.
Behold, the jacket potato.
Imagine a steaming baked potato (white or sweet) cut vertically down the middle. Now put your favorite side dishes in the middle and pile them on. Vegetables, beans, spreads—it doesn’t matter. Load that baby up with whatever makes your taste buds sing and make sure you get some potato with every bite. I’ve eaten several jacket potatoes around the city and have even made a few of my own. So good news, that means you can make them too!
Like all cities, Glasgow features a wide variety of ethnic cuisines. Italian places offer the classic pizza and pasta, although I’ve been hard-pressed to find places that serve chicken wings. Instead they serve kebabs, or different types of meat on a wooden stick. Mexican restaurants have all of the same things Moe’s and Chipotle offer. Chinese restaurants line the streets as well.
And as for American fast food places, I’ve seen McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and KFC. Mickey D’s is considered more of a delicacy here than back home. Subway is actually the most popular one—I can’t turn a corner without seeing one. I’ve eaten there once and the sandwiches taste the same, although the menu differs a wee bit. For example, they offer a chicken tikka sub, which I’ve never seen back home. In the U.S., you eat at McDonalds when you’re intoxicated or at a low point in your life. Here it’s something you look forward to; it’s an experience. I haven’t eaten there simply because I don’t like the food, but I can the actual restaurants themselves are the nicest ones I’ve ever been in. They’re very clean and offer great service. And as for KFC, a personal favorite of mine, I was HIGHLY disappointed. I went in there in search of warm biscuits and potato wedges, along with some traditional chicken breasts. KFC didn’t offer any of those savory sides, and the chicken just wasn’t that good.
It’s safe to say America does fast food right. Although that may not be something to brag about.
Now to answer the questions about different takes between foods that the U.K. and U.S. stores both feature, although the answers will be adjusted for what I usually eat.
First and foremost, PEANUT BUTTER. They have it here, but it’s just not tasty or easy to find. It’s not worthy of eating straight out of the tub. It’s a huge disappointment. Another staple of my diet, eggs, are also way more expensive here. Back home I can buy 18 eggs for 70 cents. Here I buy 15 for £1.50, approximately $1.75. And they’re also brown and never refrigerated. Weird, right? And my beloved hummus, which I like to use as a spread or for a vegetable dip, tastes so much better here.
So there you have it, a condensed summary of food in Scotland. If you have questions or comments, please direct anything my way. I could talk about food for days.
Come to think of it, since my last meal, I’ve read the newspaper, paid my credit card bill (sigh), and written this article. Time for lunch!
Remember: Your life is defined by what you do in between the meals.