Armchair Travel: Scotland

There was a time after I got laid off from Earthlink and before Joel got too sick to travel that we went on a kind of non-stop vacation. My current budget doesn’t permit me to travel very far at all these days, though I hope I will get the chance to roam again. And I also find I sometimes enjoy a bit of vicarious wandering through some of the excellent books about far away places that pass through our library.


Living In The Highlands is a gorgeously illustrated highly pictorial account of a few dozen people who live and work in the fabulously picturesque and demandingly inhospitable terrain that is the Scottish Highlands. I have many fond memories of attending our local Highlands Games and Gathering of the Clans held in August each year at the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw, Washington. It was always impressive to see the scores of men in full traditional dress, the parades and the competitions, but the more authentic version of this festival, The Lonach Highlanders on Donside, pictured magnificently in chapter two far surpassed anything I’d previously seen. Many Highlanders have restored ancient castles as modern tourist destinations, while others have built high tech energy efficient homes geared specifically to the unique Highland terrain. For an armchair visit to a most beautiful spot of the UK, this one is Recommended.

I had never thought much about Scottish food until Ron brought this cookbook home. Ron’s late partner before me was am immigrant from Scotland with a reportedly formidable brogue and Ron reports that he has made a number of the recipes from The Scottish Kitchen and that the instructions are well thought out and easy to follow and the results delicious. He particlarly remarked on the tomatoes au gratin, which did look yummy and something called Black Bun which is a sweetmeat pastry that looked divine. Recommended.

I have to confess that I am not much of a fan of cookbooks of recipes contributed by restaurant chefs who who show you painstakingly how to make their too, too, chi-chi froo-froo glam presentations at home. For that matter, when dining out I much more look for intense flavors and skillful combining of common ingredients rather than architectural monstrosities and such atrocities as four mealy raspberries precisely arranged around the tiny hunk of cheesecake amid a squeeze bottled sauce that looks better than it tastes primarily because there’s not enough of it to use as a sauce. Scotland On A Plate frankly falls in the category Don’t Bother.