Stephen Jardine: Celebrate a feast day of our own

Stephen Jardine. Picture: Jane Barlow

Stephen Jardine. Picture: Jane Barlow

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A BELATED Happy Thanksgiving to you all. If the big day on Thursday passed you by, that’s hardly surprising.

The great family feast may be one of the biggest dates in the American calendar but here it passes unnoticed outside the United States expat community.

In my opinion, that’s a shame. Any opportunity for a celebration feast should be welcomed with open arms and a large knife and fork. And the fact of the matter is, Americans do Thanksgiving very well indeed.

Despite the massive cultural contrasts of the vast continent, the feast which has its origins in a time of good harvest for the early settlers, remains the same from Maine to Mississippi.

With remarkably little variation, it involves a turkey, stuffing, cranberries and mashed potato, with pumpkin pie for desert.

It also makes me wonder, why are we missing out on an opportunity for our own homegrown feast? Tomorrow is St Andrew’s Day and here it will be marked in the usual fashion.

In other words, a couple of bands will play on a freezing open air stage somewhere decked with saltires and a load of civil servants will get a holiday on Monday. For a country that has been on a world stage this year to international acclaim, is that really still good enough?

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Instead we have a terrific opportunity to celebrate St Andrew’s Day on our plates.

We are lucky. The feast day of our patron saint falls at the height of the game season, when lamb is plentiful and some of our seafood is at its best. We could create a food occasion that would be the envy of the world.

We have Burns Night – but that is a feast based on one man and one dish.

Turning St Andrew’s night into a food occasion offers the opportunity for a much wider celebration of what is to be Scottish. Instead of one dish, the menu could be whatever you want it to be as long as it is Scottish.

That has the benefit of offering a welcome boost to farmers, fishermen and food producers at this dark and cold time of year.

In recent years there have been moves to find a focus on food for St Andrew’s Day and something seems to be stirring. Thursday saw Glengoyne whisky and Seafood Scotland host a reception in London’s Borough Market at the start of a Scottish producers market in the run-up to St Andrew’s Day.

This weekend an opinion poll for food firm Scotty Brand shows a quarter of Scots plan a special meal tomorrow.

With St Andrew’s Day on a Sunday this year, it has never been easier. So if you are in the remaining three quarters not planning anything special, why not call some friends or family, buy some great Scottish produce and cook a meal to give thanks for being lucky enough to be Scottish.

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