Tartan kilts, the highlands, the Loch Ness monster and bagpipes... this could only be a recipe for Scotland.
Everybody has heard the rumours of Scottish cuisine. There's haggis - a sheep's heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet (the hard, white fat around the sheep's kidneys and loins) and spices, which is then stuffed into the sheep's stomach. There is also black pudding, which is a type of blood sausage, made by cooking animal blood until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. Please choose from: pig, cattle, sheep, duck and goat blood. But perhaps you're not aware of the Scots' fascination with deep frying.
I first heard about it when I was working in Glasgow for a wee while. There would be talk of deep fried Mars Bars. It wasn't until my last day in Scotland that I finally had the opportunity to try one.
Usually bought from fish-and-chip shops, the woman at this chippie was reluctant. "If it's not done right, if there happens to be a break in the batter, the chocolate will go all over the deep-fryer and it would take ages to clean." But after much shameless begging and batting of eyelids, she agreed. "Oh alright. If you go get the Mars Bar, I'll fry it up for you," she said.
She immersed the chocolate log in a thick coat of batter and submerged it into the sizzling cauldron of hot oil. My eyes grew like saucers and saliva began seeping from my mouth.
I have trouble describing how it actually tasted. It was as if the frying process intensified the sweet, chocolaty flavour ten-fold. The richness overwhelmed my taste buds so much the sensation continued up through my nose and into my brain. I shared half of it with a friend but, even with that half, the sweetness overpowered me and give me a headache. I sat down for a while until my vision returned.
Some call this "The Last Supper" and I can see why. It should certainly come with a health warning for those suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease and palpitations... and for those not wanting to develop a new risk of the aforementioned.
[Below] The woman withdrew it from the fryer and cut it in half for me to share with a friend. Note the abundant oil-residue on the paper.
I have since learnt that the Scottish have extended the art of deep-frying to other cuisines. Don't ask me how they do it, but a Scottish fish-&-chip shop may now also offer: deep-fried pizzas, deep-fried doner kebabs, deep-fried Twinkies, and, only for Easter, deep-fired Cadbury Creme Eggs.
Easter is upon us. Please have your doctor on speed-dial.
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