There are many national and regional cuisines that don’t get much attention from publishers. And in the case of Scottish food, recent offerings on traditional fare have been scarce.
So this reprint of a book originally released in 1929 and revised by its author in 1963, is a treat. It’s been enhanced by an introduction and editing from Scottish food writer Catherine Brown, but the star of the show is F. Marian McNeill. McNeill was born and raised on Orkney, and spent her fifty-year writing career chronicling Scots customs, from this book to others on drink, folklore, and festivals.
University educated and an independent spirit, she set out in this book “to preserve the recipes of our old national dishes, many of which, in this age of standardization, are in danger of falling into oblivion.” And it’s not only recipes she offers. The first 85 or so pages are concerned with subjects such as “The National Larder” and typical meals. The recipes are attributed to sources as varied as “a ghillie’s daughter” and “the kitchen of a Highland Chief.” Many are identified by region, most are casual about quantities,and throughout the book McNeill provides citations from an abundance of literary and historical sources. Not a book written to formula but very much set down with affection and pride.