*Disclaimer: I can’t be held responsible for any mouth drooling, feelings of envy or ridiculous cravings whilst reading this article.
Hmmmm, what’s that? What’s my favourite summer food you ask? An easy question for some, a little bit harder for others. When I actually sit down and think about this, my emotions certainly come into play. I’m sure yours do too, I mean we are human after all. Of course, food and eating are linked to emotions, aren’t they? Sharing food is part of our heritage, culture and tradition. Some people eat emotionally because they feel down and depressed but food can also be linked to feelings of joy and happiness too.
I was born in Scotland and lived there until the age of 10 before emigrating to Perth, Western Australia with my mum, dad and sister. When I reminisce, I have very fond memories around food and eating out in Scotland with my family. The first few years in Australia were an unsettling time for my sister and I but we were lucky enough to go back home for holidays most summers. Our nana and granda would take us out to eat in amazing little cafes, tearooms and restaurants all over the country. From the lowlands to the highlands, from castles and grand country estates to little tiny villages in the hills, everywhere we went was filled with friendly Scottish people and truly tasty Scottish fare.
We made so many wonderful memories with our grandparents and enjoyed sharing meals and quality time together. When I think of Scotland now, I think of the tantilising dishes scrolled across the many menus of the places I have visited, and I am flushed with warm and happy feelings. A few of my favourites stand out, like; lentil soup, cullen skink, cranachan, black pudding, salmon, langoustines and haggis to name a few, but my all time favourite summer meal would have to be a seaside fish supper (or fish and chips to you!).
If you’ve never experienced a British seaside fish supper before, let me take you down memory lane to the summer of 2019 to try and bring it to life for you…..
It was a good day. A great day actually. Sitting in that little bus going over the bridge to the Isle of Skye. A true Scottish summer morning, the sun trying to poke itself out between the fast moving clouds that threatened rain. It's true what they say; in Scotland you can experience every season in one day....in one hour even, and today was no different. Needing an umbrella and lots of layers incase the sun popped out and we got too hot, we were overpacked and over joyed to be heading out! That's the beauty of it though, part of what makes Scotland so unique and in my humble opinion, there's no place better than bonnie Scotland on a lovely summers day.
The tour bus we were on was an 8 seater vehicle. The tour company called 'Happy Tours' and our guide, dressed in a kilt, drove us around for 9 hours seeing all the sights of beautiful Skye and promising us a lovely seafood lunch. It was the lunch I was excited about the most. Of course driving through the Cuillins, admiring the dramatic landscapes of the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr, and seeing all of the other amazing sights, was truly spectacular, but there's something about knowing you’re going to fill your belly with your favourite food that excites you on another level. (Am I right?)
We stopped at the town of Portree halfway through the day. We walked down to the harbour and to the famous fish and chip shop nestled within the colourful pastel buildings that lined the waterfront. (If you’ve ever been to Skye, I’d bet the stars that you’ve eaten here). You could smell the fish and chips as you walked down the stairs towards the crowd of people already queuing. They knew it was good. An unassuming little hole-in-the-wall shop, only big enough for the fryers and a counter and about 3 people at a time ordering, they had signs everywhere around Portree advertising the best fish and chips. We were not disappointed.
The tall lad in my photos is my Australian brother in law. It was his first time in Scotland and hence his first time at a traditional seaside fish and chip shop. I took it upon myself to do the ordering and he watched on in admiration. It went something like this;
Me: 4x fish suppers please.
Server: Salt n’ malt vinegar?
Server: Pickled onion?
Server: Irn bru?
Server: No problem, £10 please
By the way, you can use that script if you ever happen to find yourself in any seaside fish and chip shop in the UK. You’re welcome.
As quickly as we ordered, our meal was handed over the counter to our waiting arms and we turned on our heels to head out to the summer air. Wrapped seductively in white butchers paper, the hot bundle felt weighty in my hands as I carried it outside to sit on the wall of the harbour and enjoy the views as I tucked into the deliciousness of my favourite summer food. Unwrapping my bundle, steam rose up and the smell hit my nose, going straight to my olfactory bulb and cementing this memory in my brain.
The crunch of the batter revealed the succulent, flaky white meat of the haddock. A plume of steam came out of the cavern I had bitten into and I blew air around my mouth to dispel the heat whilst simultaneously starting to chew. It was delicious. The crisp texture of the batter ground under my teeth as my tongue pushed the fleshy fish around my mouth. The subtle ocean flavour of the fish combined with the added salt of the batter and the fact that it was piping hot, elevated the taste completely.
The chips came next. Coated in a shaking of more salt and a few sprinkles of malt vinegar. It was impossible to eat just one at a time, because they were delicious but also because the seagulls, as big as cats, were impatiently itching closer and closer towards us to snatch what they could. Cheeky mites. They even hovered their large bodies in the sky above our shoulders and swiped their beaks close so we’d drop some chips in fright. They're successful though, they don't get that big on their natural diet. Of course a meal like this needs something as equally good to wash it down with. Water will not cut it, one must order the national drink of Scotland - an Irn Bru. This very sweet, very fizzy orange coloured drink cuts through the grease and salt of the fish and chips and leaves a tingly feeling of freshness in your mouth. It was the perfect accompaniment to my meal. The taste of my summer.
Feeling satisfyingly full, we licked our greasy fingers, took some happy snaps for the mems and were ready to board the bus for the rest of the tour, head back across the bridge to the mainland and our hotel in Inverness.
Now, I’m not saying this is a healthy meal, it’s certainly not an everyday meal, but it’s important to treat yourself and emerse yourself in local culture.
You can keep your watermelon, your strawberries and ice cream and your lean and clean summer chicken salads - when I think of summer and my favourite food, I’ll never not want a warm and salty Scottish fish supper!
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