20.8.08

The Quintessential Glasgow Dish

I have often wondered what would happen if I could combine the ingredients that most perfectly embody Glaswegian character. In essence create a meal which is both a bold ambassador to visitors of the city and a warm evocation of home for locals. To approach this question I have short listed the ingredients which I think are most representative below along with a short background to each.

Deep-fried Anything
Pizza’s, Mars bars, pies, burgers, you-name-it, if it can be dipped in batter and boiled in animal fat then you can probably find it in Glasgow, the heart attack capital of the world where the average male life expectancy is 7 years below the national average.

Buckfast Tonic Wine
Any true Glaswegian feel nostalgic when the nasally adolescent call of ‘Haw Mister! Gonnie getus a bottle o Buckie’ reverberates through the neighbourhood. Fondly called ‘Buckie’, 'Wreck-the-Hoose juice' or simply ‘The Tonic’ by locals this most iconic national beverage actually originates from French Benedictine Monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England. Due to it’s low cost and relatively high alcohol content, it has been popularised by youthful delinquents and other maverick populations. Notably over 10% of the worldwide supply is drunk in and around the Glasgow area. The distinctive empty green and yellow bottle is a seemingly ubiquitous decoration of the city’s landscape, donated by it’s kind hearted locals. Demand is so great that the distillery in Devon has been forced to relocate to larger premises in 2008.

Diced Carrots
Contrary to universal principle governing mass and energy, and regardless of what’s previously been consumed (or more typically when nothing has been consumed) the average Glaswegian, when (self) administered with copious amounts of Buckfast (see above) is somehow able to produce what appears to be diced carrots as evidenced by the swathes of unsavoury orange spotted puke coating the alleys and street corners of the city on a typical Saturday morning post Friday night revelry. Interestingly, medical research has found no proof of the theoretical carrot gland in any Glaswegian and therefore concludes that it must be an integral part of the local diet.

Piece and Jelly: aka sandwich (piece) with jam (jelly) in it.
Representative of what your poor working class child got for lunch, home made sandwiches spread with butter or/and jam was cheap and nutritious food(okay not genuinely nutritious but it gave these poor kids lots of calories). Over the years a piece and jelly has truly become a comfort food for many a Scot.
Old-timers will remember the golden days of tenement flats and children (wains) rushing along cobbled streets below catching forgotten homemade sandwiches (pieces) thrown down to them from by their long suffering mothers (ma’s). With the construction of high-rise flats and the mass exodus of the poor to these new cheap accommodations there was the dawning realisation that the high-rises where a less than ideal solution. Public resistance and grumbling towards the housing situation was expressed in many ways and with typical Glaswegian self depreciating sarcasm. It became a bit of a joke that sandwiches could no longer be thrown down to forgetful children and this was captured in the following popular light hearted song.

Ahm a skyscraper wain, ah live on the nineteenth flair
And ahm nae goin oot tae play anymair
Cause since I moved tae Castlemilk Ahm wastin' away
Cause Ahm gettin' wan less meal everyday.

Chorus
Oh ye cannie fling pieces oot a twenty storey flat
Seven hundred hungry wains will testify tae that.
If it's butter cheese or jeelly, if the breed be plain or pan,
The odds against it reachin' earth are ninety nine tae wan.

Oan the first day my ma flung me a piece of Hovis broon
It went flying oot the windae and went up instead of doon
Now every twenty-seven hoors it comes back intae sight
For ma piece went into orbit, and became a satellite

Chorus

On the second day my ma thought she'd try anither throw
But the Salvation Army Band was playing doon below
Onward Christian Soldiers was the tune they should have played
But the Omp-pah man was playing on a piece on marmalade

Chorus

On the third day ma mother thought that she'd try once again
But it went and hit the pilot of a fast low flying plane
As he scrapped off the window, shoutin' through the intercom
“Those Glasgae Reds have got me, with a breed and jelly bomb”

Chorus

So we're goin' up tae OxFam, tae try and get some aid
And all kids in Castle Milk have join a "piece" brigade
We're marching now to City Hall, demanding civil rights
Like nae mair housing, over piece flinging heights

Irn Bru
It has long been the most popular soft drink in Scotland, outselling Coca-Cola and famous for its bright orange colour and bubble gum candy flavour. Locally it has been dubbed ‘Gut-rot’, 'Ginger' or just ‘Bru’. The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh exhibits items selected bynational celebrities - Sean Connery chose a crate of Irn Bru. When McDonald's restaurants first opened for trading in Glasgow they did not serve Irn Bru. This was seen as an insult by some locals, and after many of their restaurants were picketed, McDonalds relented and began to stock Irn Bru alongside their other soft drinks.


So after much pondering, concertation and conjugation I’ve come up with a dish incorporating all of the above.

The Quintessential Glasgow Dish is….

Caramelised Sweet Carrot and Berry Preserve Fritters with a Buckfast Glaze and Irn Bru Iced Cream.

Deep fried, batter coated slices of white bread filled with chunks of sweet caramelised carrots and fruit preserve for the sweet-toothed Glasgow palette and, finished with coating of reduced Buckfast wine glaze, for that extra Glasgow-Kiss-like punch, and complimented with refreshingly cool and smooth Irn Bru flavoured ice cream. Pure dead brilliant man!

If I ever work out how to make this and survive the experience then watch this space…