Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Scotch Pies, Haggis, and Caboc, oh my!

A while ago, I wrote a post saying that I'd be travelling to Edinburgh, Scotland during the month of September to work with City Travel Review on a travel guide, and I said I planned to post a few updates while there. Well, I've officially been here for a week and only just now found time to post. Between trips to museums and galleries, walks up and down the Royal Mile, workshops for the travel guide, and visits to various pubs and cafes, I've barely had time to sit still, let alone publish a blog post. I'm totally smitten with this city and every day has been an activity-filled adventure. My mornings consist of a small group meeting and a workshop with a media professional (Anne; she's worked with the BBC and currently works on a youth/education magazine), and the afternoons are generally reserved for group excursions or free time in the city. We have twenty-three people working on the publication and most are German (three Americans, one or two Austrians, and a girl from Switzerland), so it's definitely a unique experience. I'm sharing a flat in the perfect location (right by the Royal Mile and Princes Street Gardens, two of the best parts of the city) with three other girls, including a girl from the Pittsburgh area (small world!), and I've been spending a majority of my time walking (you walk everywhere in this city!).

Edinburgh Castle

Work on the publication is going well. We've sent in a first round of articles and it's already shaping up to be a very different, original guide. Finalizing layout and choosing pictures is the next step, and a second round of articles will soon be sent in. Perhaps the best part of this job is that it is our job to go out and see and do things. We are essentially told to explore the city, see and do as much as we can, and then write about it. I could definitely get used to this.

True to myself, I've written a few articles about food in the city and I've been trying to remember to take pictures of some of the food I've been eating. Most people know Scotland for haggis, a savory mixture of minced sheep parts (liver, heart, and lungs), onion, oatmeal, and spices that's then encased in the sheep's stomach or in sausage casing before then being removed and served (sounds gross, but it's actually quite tasty). Scottish food is so much more than that though, and I'm really enjoying the chance to try so many new foods. I've discovered creamy porridge and sugary sweet tablet (a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth sweet made with sweetened condensed milk, butter, and sugar). I've snacked on Scotch pies (meat pies) with mash (mashed potatoes) and gravy. I've tried a variety of Scottish cheeses and I'm looking forward to trying black (blood) pudding and maybe a salmon or venison dish. There's definitely a sense that Scottish food is a bit heavier and heartier, but anyone who says food in the U.K. is bad or bland should be shot. The meat pies are meaty, salty, and some are even a wee bit Christmasy (like the traditional Scotch pie, made with minced lamb/mutton and spices like mace and black pepper). The cheeses are absolutely wonderful—Caboc is like the love child of sour cream and cream cheese (creamy and thick with a rich, slightly sour flavor) and the blue cheeses are lovely. I've tried the so-called "national" drink, Irn Bru (pronounced "iron brew")—it's a soda with a bubble gum-gummy bear-cream soda taste that you'll either love or hate, and it'll get you on a crazy sugar high after just a few sips. I've been to the Edinburgh Farmer's Market and I've popped into countless little pubs (I'm absolutely loving cider—Strongbow is particularly popular here) and cafes (love getting soup, sandwich, and tea). It's also great to be in the land of Cadbury, where I can enjoy Twirls, Crunchies, and Flakes.

Cock-a-leekie soup

English cheddar sandwich with tomato chutney

Sausage pie with gravy and mash

Porridge with white chocolate, hazelnut, and tablet

Scottish Cream Tea: Scottish Breakfast tea and a scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam

It's absolutely amazing living (and eating!) here and I'm already dreading my return home (though having my own bed and my cats will be wonderful). This has been an amazing experience so far, and I'm truly looking forward to the next few weeks. Hopefully I'll get one or two more posts up during my stay, and I'll certainly post a few more photos, so be on the lookout.


  1. Hey! I see you took part in City Travel Review and would love to hear your overall impression of the program - the good, bad, and the ugly! Maybe you could even put it into a blog, as I haven't been able to find one directly reflecting on the course (apart from the ones on their websites). I've applied for the month-long Berlin project in June, and am curious what to expect. I would love a quick reply as (if I'm accepted) I have to put down money fast. Cheers and great writing, keep it up!

    1. Haha. Okay, well, I started writing a response and it ended up being way too long for the character limit on here. There are definitely ups and downs with CTR's programs, and it's difficult to fit all of this in just a few sentences--I'd be more than happy to email you my thoughts and advice, if that's alright.