French cookbook published to celebrate Scottish food

It is a country best known for its gastronomy and as the home of food bible the Michelin Guide.

But now, foodies from France are able to recreate Scottish cuisine at home after a pair of French women living in Edinburgh published a cookbook of Scottish recipes.

Ecosse, which covers 60 recipes written in French, from Cranachan (“Verrine de framboise”) to Cock-a-leekie soup (“Bouillon de poulet et pruneau”), is now being sold around France after being published by a major French publishing house.

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Author Sarah Lachhab, from Alsace, and photographer Aurelie Bellaccico, from Paris, who have both lived in Scotland for six years, got the idea for the cookbook after becoming frustrated with some French people’s attitudes to Scottish food.

Ecosse is available in bookshops across France.

Ms Bellaccico said: "I was annoyed that every day, family and friends were making fun of me because I was living in Scotland, saying the food is disgusting. I said to them, ‘You've never been to Scotland’ and that I was actually eating really good food here. There were amazing recipes I was trying in restaurants and so I was a bit annoyed Scottish food had such a bad reputation.”

Ms Lachhab, who works in tourism, said: “As a tour guide, I welcome French speakers to Scotland. They all come saying, ‘Oh, we're not here to eat, we know we're going to have bad food. We're just here for the landscapes. Then during the trip, they eat so much good stuff and then at the end they tell me they loved the desserts, the fresh fish, the veggies - everything. They asked me how could they learn more about Scottish food and there was nothing in French that was actually addressing that.”

During lockdown, the pair began a blog showcasing Scottish dishes and found it was popular. They put together a few recipes and sent them to publishers. The idea was quickly snapped up by La Martinière, the fourth largest publisher in France. They have already had to start another print run, after the first sold out in a few weeks.

"From the first weekend, the publisher told us the stock is already going fast,” said Ms Lachhab. “Hopefully we'll have another reprint before Christmas as well.”

Sarah Lachhab and Aurelia Belaccico wanted to change French people's perception of Scottish food.

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While they could not leave out Scotland’s national dish, deciding how to teach French cooks how to create a haggis was a barrier – however, Ms Lachhab came up with an alternative – a vegetarian version, entitled “Terrine de lentilles et orge”.

She said: “We were very proud from the beginning to include only vegetarian haggis. Because it's really hard to find the meat and in Scotland, nobody really makes it at home, you go to the butcher. We really wanted to have recipes that were accessible for everyone.”

As well as the recipes, there are a number of articles with cultural information about Scotland, ranging from the story of Dolly the Sheep, to farming and an A to Z of the Highlands.

The pair have been inundated with photographs on their Instagram accounts from people in France who have tried their recipes.

"I'm very impressed with the care people take when they do the photographs – they often add something like a tartan blanket. That makes us so happy every time,” said Ms Belaccico.

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