Scottish Eggs, Anyone?

Photo credit: Dave Conner
Photo credit: Dave Conner

Scotland’s been in the news a lot lately.

But what do Scottish people eat? That’s the question.

Tea, most likely. That’s a good place to start.

Oatmeal, in scones and porridge (just for breakfast, you would hope). Yes.

And whisky. Scotland produces some of the best whisky in the world. Smoky. Peaty.

Can’t go wrong with whisky, no.

Unless you prefer beer. Like maybe Deuchars’ Indian Pale Ale.

And the salmon! My goodness, yes, from the Tay River and Tweed River.

But forget the haggis.  Forget. It.

Lamb, too. Of course. The wool and the kilts and the scarves and the sweaters come from all those sheep grazing about. Of course.

But one of the most loved foods in Scotland (and in the American South, believe it or not) turns out to be Scotch [er, Scottish] Eggs. A heart attack waiting to happen, they say, but delicious nonetheless. Usually eaten in the pub or at a picnic. Or on the run.

Rumor, or fact as you will, has it that the English Fortnum & Mason (“the Queen’s Grocer”) folks invented Scotch Eggs in 1851. Now, unfortunately, many people associate these cholesterol “pills” with the tasteless fast-food versions found in convenience stores across Britain.

By 1862, cookbook authors included them in their tomes:

571. Scotch Eggs.-Five eggs make a dish. Boil them hard. Shell and dip them in beat egg, and cover them with a forcemeat made of grated ham, chopped anchovy, crumbs, mixed spices, etc. Fry them nicely in good clarified dripping or lard, and serve them with a gravy sauce separately.- Obs. Eggs may be boiled half-hard, peeled, wrapped in puff- paste, dipped in egg and crumbs, fried and served as a corner-dish or supper-dish. Eggs for a small dish may also be boiled hard, sliced, and served in a white ragout-sauce, dishing them with a whole yolk in the middle. Curled slips of bacon, toasted sippets, fried parsley, mushrooms, etc., form appropriate accompaniments and garnishings to dishes of eggs. – See French Cookery for other Preparations of Eggs, Nos. 6742, 675, 676, and 737. (The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, by Margaret Dods, 11th edition, revised)

You can only hope that the Scots love these eponymous little gut bombs. But maybe they don’t, not really — after all, these eggs being English and all, in their lineage, you know. But wait, just a minute.

Truth be told, Scotch Eggs sound just like a dish from Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East, where cooks pat kibbeh over the outside of eggs and poach them in a stew.


No matter. Just before you eat, raise your glass, and say:

Slàinte, sonas agus beartas (Health, wealth and happiness )

5 thoughts on “Scottish Eggs, Anyone?

  1. Not to mention Susan Boyle … I am just amazed at how many YouTube views of her performance: almost 40 million, last time I looked.

  2. I simply could never warm up to Scotch Eggs. My daughter’s best friend made them all the time and boasted about how delicious they were. Not for me.

    Thank goodness Scotland also gave us John Muir. Thanks for sharing, Cindy…

  3. Of course! I will be doing more later; right now I am preparing a paper on African flavor principles in cooking, to be presented at the Association for the Study of Food in Society at the end of May, so my attention will naturally be focusing on that subject more than usual, at least for a while.

    Thanks for writing and for reading Gherkins & Tomatoes.

  4. I enjoy reading your blog!! Could you do more writing on British cooking and food–Medieval and Modern Periods? This is the area I am researching and reading on.
    Thank You

Comments are closed.