Eating in Edinburgh is a special experience. They have black pudding, they have haggis, they have curry fries, and a lot of neeps and tatties. We also bought groceries for a taco night at home.
In the UK, a common traditional breakfast consists of pinto beans, toast or a bun (usually buttered, fried egg, potato pancakes (not shown here), sausage links, ham and fried tomatoes and mushrooms.
Here’s a picture of the traditional breakfast from Essentially-England.com since I failed to capture my own image!
The black circles of food captured here are known as black pudding and are served throughout the UK and Ireland, and variations are common all over Europe. Black and white pudding are common as a breakfast add on. Black pudding is blood sausage. If you want a full description, there is one here. One day early in our trip, not knowing what it was and thinking it looked a lot like vegan sausage patty made with black beans and oats, I almost tried it. Luckily someone told me what it was just before I put the fork in my mouth. Most people didn’t seem to be fans of it even if they weren’t vegetarian. White pudding is a sausage made usually of pork but doesn’t include blood in the cooking process.
At each place where I ordered this meal, I could ask for it without the egg, ham, sausage, and butter, and at all the places they asked me if I wanted extra mushrooms or beans to compensate. One place even had vegan sausage although i didn’t find it very appetizing.
In Edinburgh, we went to the Snax Cafe for breakfast for traditional British dish. It was really reasonably priced and I highly recommend this place for some quick traditional grub.
I was also told by a friend, Julia, who I run with back home that I need to try the haggis, or vegetarian haggis. As soon as I looked up what haggis is I was thoroughly confused about how they would make such a thing vegetarian. Haggis includes heart, lung and often liver of a lamb cooked with oats and other spices in the lamb stomach lining. See a recipe here. It’s usually served with “neeps” and/or “tatties, which are mashed turnips and mashed potatoes. I heard haggis tastes sort of like meatloaf so if you think of it like meatloaf it’s less mysterious how they make a vegetarian version.
Per her suggestion, Erin and I went to Mums. There are plenty of places that serve haggis, but I heard this place was good for comfort food and we were hungry. I ordered the vegetarian haggis, which was made out of lentils, nuts and oats. It was just like a veggie meatloaf. It was really good with mashed potatoes and turnips and reminded me of what I ate when I was young, which is fitting since it was called Mums. I ate it too fast so I don’t have a picture, but I did snap a shot of the inside of the restaurant. 🙂 Here is a recipe for vegan haggis and also one for a shephard’s pie style non-vegetarian haggis by Jamie Oliver.
Another thing to try if you get the chance is the curry fries. I actually have not had them here (huge fail on my part), but I do get them whenever I’m at Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis. It’s pretty simple. This is just about eating french fries with a curry dipping sauce. Here’s a recipe for curry sauce. Try it at Brit’s Pub if you are Minneapolis or from any chip shop in Britain!
If ever in Edinburgh, or if you want to make an authentically Scottish recipe at home, these local traditional dishes must be tried!
When we weren’t out and about trying the local fare, we were eating at the hostel. This usually consists of snacking, but also included taco night! Erin and Chad made their tacos with chicken and cheese, and we cooked mushrooms and onions, peppers, and I added a bean mix and spinach. It wasn’t a traditional taco but I’ve discovered almost anything in a wrap or tortilla is good enough for me. Especially loads of vegetables! We had chips and salsa and guacamole, and discovered that they sell salted Doritos here as tortilla chips (this was the only selection). And cider, and beer of course. It was very good.
I’ve decided while eating out is fun to try local favorites, my favorite meals have been those that involved cooking at the hostel. Having a good kitchen at the hostel definitely has become one of the most important criteria. I think it just tastes better when you make food yourself, and I especially like knowing exactly what is in my food.