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Chapter 1

Some reasons for conducting the research
The set of assertions forming the main themes of the book is as follows:
·       The Scottish diet is as distinct as the notion of Scottish Nationality.
·       The Scottish diet is in need of improvement.
·       The improvements go beyond any recommendations to eat certain foods (not included) but encroach upon that entity “the Scottish way of life” with due focus upon food and drink. In order to understand this particular way of life it is necessary to unravel it in terms of preceding influences. These are taken to be subsumed in the word ‘heritage’. Given that in the present context, the term includes the gastronomic customs that have been passed on from previous generations, it is possible to consider the idea of ‘gastronomic heritage’ as a tool to reveal the many influences contributing to the distinctiveness of the Scottish diet.
Scotland and France became diplomatically close in the lead up to and after an agreement made in 1295/6. The allies shared a need to curtail English expansion and the agreement became known asThe Auld Alliance
Diet and economy are important correlates and a prolonged contact with France through the ‘Auld Alliance’ brought dubious benefits to Scotland. While France was developing its haute-cuisine, Scotland failed to improve upon a poverty diet. The economic disadvantage resulting from trade with France was one of the factors restricting the improvement in Scottish diet up to the mid-eighteenth century.
·       The generally acknowledged improvements in the Scottish economy and way of life as a result of improved contact with England after the Union of 1707 extend to a better diet but not necessarily immediately after it.
·       The development of the ‘Scottish way of life’ as seen through food and drink on the table is shown as often being about a century behind Europe as late as around 1850.
·       Agriculture dominated that way of life until the mid-nineteenth century. An important strand in the connection between people and their food is ‘social control’. It is shown that the domination of the ruler over the ruled has had major implications for the general diet throughout the course of history. If any specific set of people deserve to be singled out for special discussion in that respect it is, surprisingly enough, those within agriculture. Surprising since with such proximity to food the expectation might be that their needs would be the first to be met.
‘Social control’ in relation to food and drink includes the formation of the cultural uses of these commodities and variations are discernable throughout history according to social class.
The Literature Gap
With a vast amount of historical material on Scotland, numerous works dealing with food and drink in previous times and a substantial quantity of modern cookery books it is a further assertion that no single work focuses upon the background to the modern Scottish diet.
John Galt said that when he was very young, he wished to write a work “… that would be for Scotland and what the Vicar of Wakefield is for England …”1. Although an “Annals of the Parish Table” would be interesting, perhaps one purpose of undertaking this study is to produce for Scotland something which would match John Burnett’s Plenty and Want: A Social History of Diet in England from 1815 to the Present Day2 or J.C. Drummond andA. Wilbraham’s The Englishman’s Food: Five Centuries of English Diet.3 While both these books are descriptive and entertaining they do not examine many of the assumptions made about the diet studied. It is important to put ‘the diet’ into a social context and from there branch out to along lines exploring the basis of food and eating. As we will come to appreciate, it is the social conditions which form a diet.
C. Anne Wilson’s Food and Drink in Britain4 covered “the days of the hunters and gatherers until the period of the industrial revolution”, and besides being a large history book was also a recipe book, “so that those who have a practical interest in historical cookery can try their hands at some of the dishes eaten by their more remote ancestors.”5 There are no recipes in the present study and considerable justice has been done in that respect by other works as quoted such as Virginia Maclean’s Much Entertainmentof Johnson and Boswell on their 1773 Tour, and Hamish Whyte’s Lady Castlehill’s Receipt Book There is a vast amount of Scottish Cookery books and there is little point in using valuable space on previously published recipes when so many other important dimensions of Scotland’s gastronomic history need to be brought together. Material existing in a wide variety of studies ranging from those already mentioned, other standard works such as D. Elliston Allen’s British Tastes8, to a Mrs Zealand’s personal research into archival evidence in Montrose has been brought together to bring detailed comment on the history of Scottish diet.
It has already been implied within the assertions that France and England have had a significant effect upon Scotland’s food history but more pointed comment will be made. That a Scot should write such a history of Scotland is only one dimension to its potentially hurt pride but there are further surprises to come. The study brings together material which throws doubt on the historical validity of claims made that whisky, haggis, Hogmanay and similar institutions are the very heart of its exclusive heritage. Irish whisky came to Scotland and was no more than developed by a nation which may have had greater abilities in that respect (not to mention better water). If Italy experienced something similar in terms of giving France its haute cuisine stemming from the court of Catherine de Medici, France did no more than establish a long historical association, the Auld Alliance, with Scotland and when it ended, leave behind a strong French connection which excluded haute cuisine but possibly included haggis and Hogmanay.
France built its gastronomic reputation on haute cuisine and excellence of cookery. Scotland has done the opposite with its ‘oat-cuisine’ of porridge, haggis and Scotch broth (‘tartan food’ as will be elaborated upon), based on a poverty diet. This general approach, when used as part of the marketing techniques to attract tourists and others to Scotland and to feed and entertain them when they arrive is considered in relation to ‘tartan food’ and is shown as now being out-moded. McLaren has discussed Scottish culture in the context of the image that Scotland has created for itself over centuries. He would concur with the basic idea here that this type of food is associated in the minds of others is due to “ … the kind of publicity that we have allowed and even encouraged to be put out about ourselves for the last two hundred years.” 9
But it is not only those outside Scotland who have recognised that the Scottish diet is in need of revision. Stephens compared her nation with the rest of Western man and concluded that “ … we Scots are even fatter, more toothless and more constipated, for in many of the scourges of modern civilisation we have a regrettable tendency to come top of the league.”10
Her interest as a State Registered Dietician led to the writing of a book which at present, has not been published. We will see some of her work later concerning the diet of earlier agricultural workers. She asserts11 that the present day Scot’s diet is excessive in quantity and narrow in scope. Until more detail is given later we can keep to general discussion.
If England expects every man to do his duty and carve the Sunday joint, what is anticipated for the Scot? A perspective of the modern Scot’s expectation of daily food intake has been given by Tannahill12and taking the wife’s point of view indicates that “It would be enough to tax the energies (not to mention the culinary enthusiasm) of a saint to have to produce … “such a long list of requirements which starts with a fried and porridge supported breakfast, and moves on to a substantial dinner  of two or three courses at midday. At around 6pm is supplied a kitchen  of something and chips, plentiful amounts of bread, scones, cake and biscuits. At 9.30 any remaining high tea foods might do an encore for supper alongside sandwiches. Many Scots housewives produce such fare every day according to the traditions established by their agricultural predecessors who worked all the daylight hours. “… a pattern that in today’s more sedentary society does little for the figure or for the digestion.”13   It will be shown later that there is no expectation of Sunday lunch and that the Saturday high tea is its equivalent.
Tannahill suggest that modern Scottish food ‘requirements’ are based on a set of historical expectations and the present work is concerned with seeing what they might have been. But as Goody14 remarked: “You cannot do field work in the past, and ‘oral history’ needs to be weighed against documentary, archaeological and linguistic research.” This study will draw upon the field work done by others, some sufficiently close to them to be able to comment upon what they did or felt, and others who have attempted to recreate the past by intensive research into their field of interest. (Parry15 points out that such activities are retrodictions and provides a detailed model of the process).
Burke, early in his Sociology and History16 remarked that “A social survey of the past, like a social survey of the present, raises two awkward problems. There is the problem of evidence or ‘data’, and there is the problem of categorising it or them.” The broad chapter headings here should not be interpreted as precise categories as there is inevitably much overlap relating to their contents. The ‘evidence’ is not the “hard data” which Burke17 considers the easier to obtain. Whether what is included within this study ranks for consideration as data, hard or soft, will remain to be seen. Some of it is not evidence, it is, rather more, ‘information’ of a fairly general kind from which attempts are made from time to time to piece together an overall view relating to a time, a situation or a theme. In such a study, detailed retrodictions are probably out of place for “The history of a nation has to do with things which books never quite supply; the manner of the people, their modes of life, action and thought. We know more of old Rome from a day among its ruins.” 18
Innes, writing in 1860, was a century and a half nearer than us to some of the Scottish ruins which are of some concern to the present study. With an interest in what has preceded the modern era, we can perhaps move closer to a better understanding of the present situation. This, after all, is the raison d’etre of history. It has, however, been carried out in terms of Scottish food and drink and its culture of the table.
Methodology and Resources
It is important to obtain the views of specialists who have written in the past and more recently, and these have been obtained from the conventional literature search. The bibliography shows many historical sources and the extent of personal communications indicates that numerous people were kind enough to respond. While many of these were ‘specialists’ in terms of being museum curators etc., others were recommended as being interested, were written to after they had written a letter to a food magazine, perhaps, or   who   made contact with   the author through reading a published article or paper on food and drink. A conference organised by him in Edinburgh in 1982 – “Health Education and Food” – generated a fair number of contacts which proved to be very useful.
It is part of the approach of this study to provide a treatment of the main topics in a general way before proceeding to discuss them as they prevail in the Scottish situation. The obvious reason is for the purpose of introducing a specific topic, to establish what is important and then to point the subsequent, specialized treatment. A perhaps less obvious reason is to be in a position to comment upon the different ways the topic might be tackled and to establish in what way the material written in, or relevant to, Scotland differs from the general approach. It is important to look at the material written at various stages through the course of history. It helps establish the progression from one state of knowledge and opinion to the next.
The Literature
The literature divides, for the purpose of this study as follows: firstly there is the general material relating to social history taken in the widest sense with economic, agricultural and cultural connotations, tailing off to that which deals with food and drink. There is a further continuum of material on food and drink which starts with the historically descriptive treatment and progresses to the currently descriptive and possibly analytical texts. Then there is the specific material on food and drink in various modern settings starting with cookery books and
with wine and other drinks at the end. Such a range is supported by the general works including the occasional reference of use in this study and the more specifically sociological and economic treatments of the ancient, pre-modern and modern worlds from which we may obtain sometimes insight and sometimes quite detailed information of use to the research.
Chapter Two tackles the need to have some clarity on the role of food in the development of culture and civilization and, once that process was well underway, the way food was used in relation to the refinement of manners generally and table manners in particular. Such use helps signal the level of advancement at any one stage. The main work giving much detail of use to the present study is “The Civilizing Process” written by Norbert Elias in 1939.19  
Another important work available to us is Fernand Braudel’s “Capitalism and Material Life; 1400 – 1800”20 While both books mentioned are historical works it might be said that Braudel’s is the more empirical. Elias is more speculative, rather in the mode of a detective archaeologist piecing together the history of civilization using written material and sometimes contemporary art. Aiding the clarification of issues relating to the process of becoming civilized is a clutch of other useful works which includes E.A. Ross21, T.W. Herbert22, L.A. White23, and J. Goody24. In the sidelines are used B.A. Henisch25 and T Veblen26.
In assessing ‘The Civilization of the Scottish Table’ no apologies are made for making extensive use of J. Warrack’s book – Domestic Life in Scotland 1488 –168827. This somewhat fortuitous find in a collection of works relating to early Scottish furniture led to the conclusion that books giving great detail relating to Scotland comparable to Elias’ treatment of Europe were rare. I.F. Grant is used a lot throughout the whole study and she has written on numerous topics relating to Scotland. Chapter Two utilisesEveryday Life in Scotland28 and The Social and Economic Development of Scotland before 160329. Daiches is a modern writer with numerous works on Scotland and several are used in this book. In Chapter Two his Literature and Gentility30 introduces the focus upon ‘Scottish civilization’. Three of J. MacKinnon’s works31 have also been very useful throughout.
Of the numerous general historical works R.L. MacKie32, J. Mackenzie33 and C. Innes34 were most useful. The role of England in the general progress made by Scotland is covered by Hechter’s Internal Colonialism: the Celtic Fringe in British National Development 1536–196635 and this is used periodically in the remainder of the book.
In Chapter Three on Social Control, Elias’ Civilizing Process comes in for further debate. With attention on access to the food supply we see contributions by C. Driver36, R. N. Salaman37 and N. Curtis-Bennett38. The cultural aspects of the use of alcohol are covered before moving on to the Scottish situation with H. Thompson39 and R.MacNish40.
The various Acts of Parliament are detailed giving some background to the more formal dimensions of social control and a more sinister version of it comes out of reading MacKinnon41 and also D. Wilson42. R. Chamber’s works are another substantial source for the study, especially his Domestic Annals … to 1745, published in 1858.
Marian McNeill, however, makes a significant contribution to the present work as a look at the bibliography reveals. She was an authority on Scottish cooking, the drinking habits of the Scots, and aspects of everyday life as portrayed through it calendar of feasts and festivals. In Chapter Three we are given an insight into An Orkney Childhood43 and in Chapters Five and Six we draw upon the more specific works. J. Ross who told the story of Whisky44, demonstrates that it is an important aspect of Scottish hospitality, and it makes a larger input into the discussion later on that spirit. Fullarton and Baird’s tract on alcohol45 is also relevant. (They were none too keen on drink as a factor in Scottish hospitality). G.M. Trevelyan’s English Social History, despite its rather specialist title, gives a good insight into Scottish life and in Chaucer to Victoria46 we are given detail relevant to much of the study.
It is fair comment that on the matter of food and drink, the amount of literature is no less than staggering. There is an abundance of material published on Scotland and there is no imbalance between the historical description and that on modern cookery. When it comes to the general treatment, however, one finds that Scotland rarely receives a mention. In Elias’ Civilizing Process there is nothing and Braudel in his Capitalism and Material Life. Is very sparse in his comment. In a later work47, Elias covers State Formation and Civilization and comment on Scotland amounts to about two sentences.
The same situation prevails for numerous general works and this of course, is the reason for carrying out the research. The author has been unable to locate any general treatment of the development of Scottish civilization using table artefacts and changing eating patterns. In company its situation to that depicted for Europe in the round, Scotland is portrayed as often being about a century behind up to the mid-nineteenth century.
We have now set the scene, described ways in which many of the important works are to be utilized. However, a few more sources and authors require mention and Daiches’ Companion to Scottish Culture48 incorporates several worthwhile articles of use to the study. Most significant of these is Tannahill’s article on Food. Alexander Fenton, Director of the Country Life Section of the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh c1980 had written several items of interest49 to Chapter Four, as have two of his staff50.
Sir Hugh Sinclair’s Statistical Account51 perhaps surprisingly does not dominate the research: neither do Johnson and Boswell, but they do have valid comment to make. Lady Grisell Baillie’s Household Book52 covering the years 1692 to 1733 deserves mention at this stage and it shows the everyday influences of France on Scottish life in earlier times and insight into the life of the aristocracy and servants in the early 1700s.
Personal Communications
The list  is extensive and there are many who have provided lengthy responses to my letters, who have seen details of the research in magazines and journals, or who have been sent details by those in the first two categories of respondents.
Only a small number of respondents are mentioned in the book as few sent material that could be quoted. Most provided interesting book titles, locations of personal collections, pointed out libraries, museums and some loaned valuable manuscripts and lesser-known books. Perhaps of more importance, though, all provided the moral support which is engendered by an enormous pride which Scots have for our history and country.
Some one hundred standard letters of general enquiry were sent to firms and organisations in Scotland in 1981 and about forty standard letters to curators of museums and libraries were sent at the same time. Many letters to private individuals were sent, each one dealing with a specific request or problem. With excellent response rates, a wealth of correspondence has ensued and it is appropriate to record my thanks to the individuals mentioned below both here and by letter when the research project came to its conclusion. 

When the modern Scottish housewife goes out to get her shopping, or ‘messages’, she knows what she wants and also how to cook the food brought home. The influences upon what goes into that shopping basket are many and various but in a ‘gastronomic history’ we ought to confine the span of attention to events and availabilities in the past and emphasise their cumulative impact as opposed to stating that particular situations in Scottish history have had this or that specific effect. This study does not show what Scots eat today; it is more to do with what they have eaten in the past and in what social context. A wider understanding of the Scots gastronomic heritage will enable those with specific interests to move on to their own explanations to suit their own questions. Such interests can include modern nutrition, but extend to cultural history in relation to one of man’s most basic needs – food. Broadly speaking ‘gastronomy’ incorporates concern for the ways in which different social groups experience different dietaries and/or apply different cooking techniques and consumption patterns to the same foods.
It needs to be stated that the term food also comprises drink in the non-specific sense of those commodities which pass into the human alimentary system beyond drugs. The work does not set out to distinguish between the two commodities until specific foods and the specific question of drink are dealt with. In its turn, ‘gastronomy’ is not given to a specific sociological use unless there are statements to the contrary.
A fair number of issues are explored in the preliminary discussion of many topics in relation to their context within the British, if not European, gastronomic milieu. The relationship which Scotland has to this is a dual one : it has influenced it and has been influences by it. The extent to which it has influenced it has not been great if we reflect that key writers such as Braudel and Elias53 seldom, if ever, mention Scotland. Generally speaking, the impact which Scotland has had on the European table is limited to a vague knowledge of haggis and ‘le Scotch broth’ and perhaps over-emphasis on the use of whisky.
It is not a pivotal point of the present consideration to assess this impact or even the effect of Scotland on the European table in great detail. It is more appropriate to take Scotland as a separate unit. We are less concerned with impacts and effects on or caused by Scotland vis a vis anywhere else and more with its own identity. That identity is restricted to a gastronomic identity and although the broad approach to the study has been so far indicated a brief excursion is required into the use of the termgastronomy.
Some dictionaries give it as ‘the study of food’ and others ‘the art and science of good eating’. When talking about ‘Scottish gastronomy’ in a general way the term implies the totality of its foodstuffs and the drinks available in the past, and, if contextually appropriate, the present as well. Dimensions of food preparation are discussed as cookery and health is dealt with by placing a nutritional context to the discussion, thereby alleviating some of the confusion within the meaning whereby gastronomy is “ … to prepare food not just in a pleasant way but a healthy way too.”54 and “ … the reasoned comprehension of everything connected with the nourishment of man.”55 It was Brillat-Savarin who was one of the first to discuss man and food in the philosophical sense and boldly pronounced: “Show me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”56 That issue is couched in terms of “man is what he eats” in the final chapter.
Many writers use the term gastronomy in relation to high standards of food and drink and much of what has come down to us is written about the prominent people of previous ages. A bargain needs to be struck here in favour of those of far less prominence. Hegarty sees a connection between gastronomy and human pleasure in terms of these high standards of food and their bearing upon fellowship. We are more concerned with “ … the relationships between [food and] social occasions …”.57 But our social occasions must include the everyday meal as opposed to only detailing the fare at sumptuous banquets in the past.
There is a more sociological meaning which can carry some synonymity with terms such as cooking. In his chapter “Cooking and the Domestic Economy”, Goody58 began by relating the nature of cooking to the “ … mode of consumption and the way it is related to production … in order to throw some light on the social processes at work.” Gellner59 in his review of Goody’s book, noted that “ … gastronomy is … a reflection of the level of development of the forces of production and coercion.” To Goody, the levels of production are indicated by : “The link between cuisine and ‘class’, with social groups being characterised by different styles of life.” 3
Bottomore60 identifies “ … difficulties with the concept of a ‘ruling class’ …” which is suggested by Gelner’s “forces” and “coercion”.
The question of social control which is suggested by Gellner receives less attention by Goody than it does in the present study and within it social control as opposed to gastronomy extends to the idea that there was an upper class control over the supply of food to the lower classes. Goody hints at this when he mentions “The increased range of ingredients and menus resulting from exchange, tribute and commerce …” although he did not add that the upper classes would aim to be the sole beneficiaries from this. Due emphasis is placed in the present study on the diminished range of ingredients available to the Scottish family in previous centuries due to the lack of opportunity to exchange or conduct commerce. This was compensated in the Highlands by raids on the Lowlands to obtain even the basic foods: there was a ripple effect of further raids across the border into the north of England.
Gastronomy, despite these potential variations in its use, is viewed as a flexible term and there is no intention of bestowing upon it any specific sociological meaning which has not had the benefit of a wider discussion and acceptance by sociologists. An indication of the lack of that acceptance is provided by looking at Murcott’s The Sociology of Food and Eating61 and gastronomy is not discussed, defined or indexed. Some sociologists ask similar questions to those posed by nutritionalists and in considering the nature of food and the meal, both groups can be seen to meet each other an interface suggested by the wider connotations of gastronomy beyond high standards and pleasurable aspects of food. Barthes represents the sociological interest and Burgess and Dean are more nutritionally orientated. Barthes62 has asked “For what is food?” His answer is that: “It is not only a collection of products that can be used for statistical or nutritional studies. It is also, and at the same time, a system of communication, a body of images, a protocol of usages, situations and behaviours.” It is this kind of interpretation of what food is that concerns the present study. To look back at food availability, its preparation, its consumption and its social context is to see the communication, the images and protocols as they prevailed at a particular moment in time.
“What is a meal?” is the question posed by Burgess and Dean. It is answered in terms of the “potentially inaccurate” frame of reference used by the specialist:
To the physiologist, a meal is a refilling of the gastric ‘hopper’ …To the psychologist … a meal is a phase or occasion of satisfying … a variety of needs and drives …
To the social psychologist a meal is an institution of the household group. It is an occasion on which the role and status of each member of the household are demonstrated, clarified and maintained.
In terms of … anthropology and sociology – a meal is one of a category of social institutions in which a variety of common and differential values, objectives and roles receive both practical and symbolic expression and modification.”63
In the physiological sense, we are interested in the way the gastric girnal (as it has been termed in Scotland) was filled – how the Scot chose to produce the foods which gave him most energy and satiety. 
Without expanding the terminology to include such newly created words such as ‘gastro-psychology’, one extension of ‘gastronomy’ has been in use for some time. ‘Gastro-geography’ enables us to see that: “The world can be divided into culinary zones which are as marked as those provided by political boundaries, altitudes, rain, religion, crops, skin colourings and other geographical factors which are mapped in modern atlases “64 Within the same political, religious (broadly) and skin colour (in the past) boundary separating Britain from the rest of the world there are marked differences in local diet as Hughes65 clearly established. Little attention was paid to the reasons for such differences and Dennis-Jones reminds us of some of them relating to altitudes, rain and crops. The study will progress to consider some of these and other factors.
Goody, however, points out the potential disappearance of such gasto-geographical frontiers: “In advanced countries the industrial process and its related modes of communication, such as mass newspapers, radio and especially television, have almost erased many of the external boundaries defining areas of food consumption, as well as rubbing out some of the internal differences between classes and regions.”66 In bringing these differences into extinction, the history of why they existed at all may have been lost to us hence the present study.
Economy, Agriculture and the Diet
The aims of the present study include the provision of an account of the chief forces which have determined the modern Scottish diet and this is deemed to be of greater importance than providing a detailed analysis of what such a diet comprises. Economic factors are obviously vital in determining any diet and if a national diet is co-relational to the state of its economy to study the latter is to raise questions relating to the standard of living, and by that fact, the diet of those who make up the nation. The last three hundred years had seen the economic history of Scotland turn full circle. At the outset of this period its role in a developing international economy was negligible. But before returning to such a level it saw, and took up a leadership position.67 The comparisons between its economy and its dietary fortunes bear witness during the same period not so much to ‘full circle’ but to a sharp decline at the start followed by a slower rate of decline until the middle of the nineteenth century.
The summer diet of the Scot between 1500 and the mid 1600s was not excellent but it was probably high in protein. A main export was skins and the animals were obviously not discarded. In a sense, the trade surplus was food-led without its staple being lost abroad – the inedible wrappers were the objects of trade, the flesh a bounty. Such plentiful supply of fresh meat was to lay down a good basis on which to start the ardour of the cold winters if not to provide the larder with salt and smoked meat. The home production of grain is a more difficult situation to generalise at this stage, but with supply at the mercy of the weather – many harvests are on record as being failures centuries before records began formally in 1921. There were other factors such as export/import policies and the laird’s larder to be filled first, which seriously affected the quantity available on the free market and the amount paid in kind to the agricultural worker.
According to Trevelyan: “Social history might be defined negatively as the history of a people with the politics left out.”68 Although anyone might want to leave out the politics in a social history of a people’s food and drink for want of avoiding unnecessary complications, some reference to the political context needs to be made when considering, for example, the national policy on exporting grain at a particular time. However, when the period of interest includes such a major event as the Union of Parliaments in 1707, to exclude politics of any kind would amount to wilful neglect.
The year 1707 did not bring about the primary movement in the development of the Scottish economy as there had been significant efforts to follow English approaches in the preceding century. Neither did it bring economic solutions immediately, since England was to become both partner and competitor in the international market place. If the effect of adjusting tariff barriers had any impact on the Scottish economy it was not noticeable to any great extent in the diet. England was the dominant force in the economic relationship and some of the effects (but obviously not the modern techniques) of what today is termed ‘agribusiness’a were noticeable in Scotland. As will later be developed, the Scottish economy was very much agrarian and the ‘absentee landlord’ only exacerbated the damaging characteristics of the situation.
While oatmeal itself may be part of a separate nutritional ‘full circle’ whereby it can be highlighted by the apologists for high-fibre, the culinary uses of this commodity may well be restricted to dishes such as porridge and herring with oatmeal. Before people jump on the bandwagon of a limited amount of researchb which suggests that whisky and oatmeal improve health, the cookbook writers need to come up with numerous ways to make oatmeal more palatable to a nation which has consigned it to the same bin as its virtually deal language Gaelic.
When Scottish agriculture is the object of attention, consideration will be paid to the failure of lairds and landowners, to deploy their potential influence on the economic development of the Scottish diet. The situation was exaggerated by the abolition of the Scottish Parliament and with the power centre later confirmed as being in London, the landed gentry of Scotland used the famous dirks worn at social events to cut their ties with their clansmen.69
It has been considered important to cover the food supply as it determines the diet. With the importance of agriculture in the Scottish economy it is appropriate to look at not only what food was produced but also those involved with its production. Inevitably there were foods which were imported and this fact needs to be evaluated in the light of the political thinking of any specific time.
The Highland Clearances brought about changes in the use of land and men were exchanged for sheep with the subsequent exchange of deer and accompanying hunters. Those bullets may well have served better to shorten the agony of the starving clansmen. For those who were unwilling to endure the dwindling food supply, the high prices for meagre sustenance and the concomitant disinheritance, the main opportunity lay in emigration. While the survival of ‘tartan food’ at Thistle Club and the Caledonian Societies all over the world is an interesting social, if not gastronomic phenomenon, it falls outside the scope of the present study. Its mention here can remind us of the intense nationalism of the Scot and the unhappy gastronomical result that in order to keep its history alive the variety in modern daily food intake is perhaps as restricted in extent and real worth although different in content from that prevailing a century or two in the past.70