Trust the Irish to throw a wee kitchen party for a former English slave boy turned ordained bishop and posthumous saint, and have the world turn it into an annual green-beer fest. That’s marketing for you.
Now the Scots want a chance to kick up their heels and let their kilts fly (not always a pleasant sight, mind you, as Scots tend to be hairy beasts) with a whole week dedicated to the proudest of dyed wools — the mighty tartan.
In North America, Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6, the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) — the Scottish Declaration of Independence. But we islanders love our spring weekends, so The Scottish Heritage and Cultural Societies of Victoria are kicking things off early on Saturday, April 2 at Market Square (560 Johnson), beginning at 11 a.m.
The day’s festivities include pipe bands, highland dog (pronounced “dug” in Scottish) and short bread contests, and enough high-energy Celtic music to make your hips move of their own accord. I’m told the event is guaranteed to make you start rolling your rrrrs, cursing the English and demanding pints of Irn Bru.
Unfortunately, there is no mention of the greatest Scottish invention of all time: Sunday breakfast. Although definitely not for the weak of heart or cholesterol-challenged, a Scottish Sunday breakfast is the one thing I still get a hankering for.
When I was a wee lad growing up in East Kilbride on the outskirts of Glasgow, my dad was always in charge of Sunday breakfast. It was the only meal he cooked and he took great pride in all its greasy glory.
When work was scarce (this was the early ’70s and Scotland was in economic upheaval) breakfast could be a relatively simple affair: bacon, eggs and fried bread. But when things picked up, breakfast became a grand event: Ayrshire bacon, sausage links, fried eggs, fried tomato, black pudding (fried), tattie scones (fried), sweet mini pancakes (fried), fried bread and fried fruit dumpling.
To cut the grease, there were always large mugs of tea at the ready.
Before Victoria lost its flagship Marks & Spencer store (over 10 years ago now), I used to love hitting their food aisle and picking up triangular packs of tattie scones and those tasty mini pancakes.
When I was last back in the old country (sadly, 14 years ago now), my wife and I stayed in a lovely B&B in Fort William on the west coast beneath the grandeur of Ben Nevis. In the morning, I practically skipped into the dining room to be greeted by a darling pair of grey-haired ladies, all rosy cheeked and armed with fresh pots of tea.
Most of the other guests at the time happened to be tourists from Denmark (who preferred coffee) — and I could see the disappointment in the ladies’ faces as they took orders for yogurt, granola and fresh fruit.
Fortunately, I was there to save the day. And when I ordered the full Scottish, their eyes beamed with delight and they practically kissed me before rushing back to the kitchen — the healthy orders for the other diners all but forgotten.
That breakfast was different from the way my father used to cook it, but I quickly discovered that it tasted even better when everything wasn’t burnt. M
Song stuck in my head
“Well Run Dry” by Fish & Bird.
With Victoria roots and definite west coast appeal, Fish & Bird deliver a cool indie-folk vibe with their third CD Every Whisper Is a Shout Across The Void. Fiddle, banjo and stand-up bass complement great voices and relatable lyrics. You can also catch the band live for its CD release party in Victoria on April 20 at Metro Studio.