Scottish Food at its Freshest: Eating Local in Edinburgh
Saturday morning at 9 am, my boyfriend and I made our way up to Castle Terrace to visit the local farmers’ market in Edinburgh. Matt and I frequently visit farmers’ markets while at home in the United States. Attending the event made us fall into our weekend ritual yet it was a unique experience as we are abroad, a fact that was reinforced as we browsed below the imposing façade of the Edinburgh Castle. It was reassuring and calming to me as we wandered through the small farmers’ market.
For the first time in a week, I didn’t feel as if I was foreign. Eating local will do that to you. It makes you part of the community as you consume the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. The food becomes part of you and you become part of the locality that produced it.
When I went to the farmers’ market in Edinburgh I felt like I was at home while simultaneously anticipating a new adventure.
Besides, when I’m around food, I’m in my element. It’s something that I understand and have an insatiable curiosity to learn more about. Food is simple yet beautiful, everyday yet sublime. Eating local teaches you about the culture in a way that draws you in and lets you leave your personal preferences behind.
Yet, because food is a necessity of life, it is inherently relatable to everyone. It brings people together from all walks of life. When I went to the farmers’ market in Edinburgh I felt like I was at home while simultaneously anticipating a new adventure.
The first difference between Edinburgh’s market on Castle Terrace and my local market back in Portsmouth, New Hampshire is the meat. There are so many stands at Edinburgh dedicated to meat in the raw or in finished product form. Matt and I are vegetarians so it was a slightly limiting experience for us. Fortunately, Matt and I can appreciate meat and the dishes that come from that food group so we found it enjoyable to see the stalls and what they had to offer even if we weren’t going to consume it.
While I’m abroad, I take pictures, ingrain images in my head of landscapes, read every panel full of content that’s related to a site but there is nothing like the memory that food creates.
Matt and I ended up buying and eating from the bread stalls, a heartier meal that would stick to our ribs on our long day at Edinburgh Castle (as well as a lunch that we could keep in our bag). Our first snack was a square pastry with goat cheese (my favorite), pesto, and tomato from Bakery Andante. It was flaky, buttery, creamy, and salty. Plus, it was a pastry I hadn’t consumed before. The savory creation blissfully awakened my sleepy taste buds on that Scottish morning. The pastry was shaped like a diamond, a shiny crust framing a pesto covered background topped with tomatoes and then snow white goat cheese sprinkled with dried herbs. It was gorgeous and delicious.
Additionally, while we didn’t purchase it, the stand’s sourdough looked divine; as the baker sliced the loaf, the textured bread with a dense appearance and brown color called out to me but I wanted to share the love between the stalls.
At Valvona & Crolla, Matt purchased a roll for a snack later and I selected a sugar doughnut to enjoy immediately. It tasted like fried dough but better; the doughnut was thick with a light sugar coating resulting in a perfect balance between the sweet and the doughy flavor but wasn’t overly greasy as fried dough can tend to be. It was the best doughnut I have ever had up to this point in my life and it was from Scotland. I never would have guessed.
The joy of eating locally has many benefits in my opinion. Besides allowing me to feel like I belong to that particular location, it also allows me to support the local economy and their hardworking farmers. Additionally, it provides a different type of memory that allows for surprises throughout my life. While I’m abroad, I take pictures, ingrain images in my head of landscapes, read every panel full of content that’s related to a site but there is nothing like the memory that food creates.
Years from now, I may taste something that reminds me of that perfect doughnut or the savory pastry square and it will immediately recall my memory of Edinburgh. It’ll be a surprise though because I’ll never know when it’s going to be triggered. It allows for unique and unexpected opportunities to reconnect with my journey. Taste and food create a very strong memory–at least they do for me.
I encourage other travelers to visit farmers’ markets and local restaurants or cafes. The farmers’ markets have comparable prices to the cheapest grocery stores that you may take advantage of during your trips. (Matt and I typically use chain grocery stores to buy daily food but farmers’ markets and local restaurants are still a big part of our traveling experience–it is a balance between controlling our budget and creating our ideal trip.)
Taste and food create a very strong memory–at least they do for me.
Buying and eating locally will allow you an experience that not everyone may fully embrace while abroad. Additionally, you will support the local community that’s so graciously hosting you and allowing you to partake in their culture. It’s a win-win.
Who knows, you may even get to chat with some locals and hear their stories while you’re at it. You’ll become more intimately connected with the community in that way and thus forge a greater bond with your travel destination that may soon be behind you as you travel home to your normal environment and regular foraging routine. My top advice while you’re abroad? Go for an adventure and eat your heart out!