Food and drink has always played a major part in the lives of Scots, from enjoying a dram or two of whisky to tucking into haggis in celebration of our patron saint.
So it’ll come as no surprise then to know that it has often been the subject of debate, witticisms and quotes from many of the country’s most famous faces.
Though some may slate our choice of cuisine (as Mike Myers’ character did in So I Married An Axe Muderer – “My theory is that all of Scottish cuisine is based on a dare.”) we have always held our food offering with a kind of reverence – tinged of course, with a little typical Scots humour.
As Winston Churchill once said: “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”
Here, alongside some traditional Scots proverbs, are some of our favourites:
“Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky.” – Old Scottish proverb
A true lovely way of looking at our notoriously wet climate – who said Scots aren’t optimistic.
“A cold needs the cook as much as the doctor.” – Old Scottish proverb
While this is practical advice that nourishment will be as restorative as medicine when you’re ill, it’s also a reminder that healthy eating will keep you well in the first place, as is the closely related: “diet cures mair than doctors.”
“A good gulp of hot whisky at bedtime – it’s not very scientific, but it helps.” – Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955)
The Scottish inventor of penicillin was the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, offers his remedy for the common cold, and let’s be honest he knows what he is talking about.
“The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed.” – David Daiches (1912 – 2005)
A Scottish literary historian and literary critic, scholar and writer, Daiches clearly had a keen understanding of whisky and his quote echoes the sentiment of Voltaire’s from a few centuries earlier: “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation”
“It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in the world, the history is fascinating, the men are handsome and the whisky is delicious. But don’t eat the macaroni pies.” – JK Rowling (1965-)
From a 2006 interview for Girlguiding Scotland, JK Rowling summed up her love for Scotland with this quote and at the same time her strange hatred for macaroni pies.
“The Glasgow invention of square-toed shoes was to enable the Glasgow man to get closer to the bar.” – Jack House, aka Mr Glasgow (1906-1991)
A typically funny Glasgowegian, Jack House sums up the city’s tongue in cheek approach to life with this quote about a less well known Scottish invention.
“Beer does not taste like itself unless it is chasing a dram of neat whisky down the gullet – preferably two drams” – Sir Compton MacKenzie (1883 – 1972)
Writing a couple of decades before his novel Whisky Galore would go on to find world wide fame, MacKenzie was already extolling the virtues of his favourite drink and how well it compliments beer.
And finally onto one of the most famous quotes from any Scot about food.
“Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat –
And sae the Lord be thankit.” – Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)
The Selkirk Grace has been attributed to Robert Burns, though it is thought he himself never wrote it down and there is debate as to whether he even created it at all.
Taking its name from the Earl of Selkirk, Burns was visiting the seat of the nobleman when he was asked to say Grace, this prayer soon followed and the rest they say is history.