Learning a little from Scotland about ‘tattie’ scones

A holiday in Florida with our Scottish friends Aileen and Gordon Dickinson gave us an opportunity to talk about cultural differences in food. Our foods have become more similar over the years, but distinctions remain.

Scotland makes more use of oats than do we, other than Cheerios I suppose. Oatmeal (known as porridge in Scotland) is made with oats ground very fine like flour. Salt is sprinkled on the porridge, rather than sugar.

MOON Co-op Grocery does not sell finely ground oat flour, but it does sell four varieties of organic oats in bulk: steel cut groats, rolled, thick, and quick.

The oats are used in foods other than porridge. Aileen brought with her a box of oat cakes, made with finely ground oat flour.

Our Scottish friends were hard-pressed to name an American food they can’t get in Scotland. Most of our familiar foods are now there. Hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza, ribs, Cajun, Mexican: Scotland has it all these days. American culture is everywhere.

However, when I served hamburgers fresh off the grill, our Scottish friends ate them with knife and fork rather than in a bun with their hands.

Aileen and Gordon enjoyed Florida’s distinctive local fish I described last week, especially pompano and swordfish. In Scotland, cod, haddock, skate, and pollack are caught and quickly rushed fresh from Peterhead (Europe’s largest fishing port) to Scotland’s local shops.

Scones are popular throughout the United Kingdom, but Scotland as a distinctive version known as tattie scones (“tattie” is Scottish for potato). Aileen sends her homemade potato scones to their daughter in Switzerland.

Aileen provided me with her recipe. It appears deceptively simple and straightforward, but I found that some care is needed to prevent them from turning out tough and chewy.

Peel 1/2 pound of potatoes, cut into large chunks, and boil in water until soft. Remove the cooked potatoes from the pot and air dry them for several minutes to reduce moisture.

Add 1 pat softened butter and 1 tsp salt and mash well. Work around 1/3 cup of flour into the mix a little at a time to make a stiff pliable dough.

Cool the dough for several minutes and roll out on a floured surface to the size of a salad plate, around 1/4 inch thickness. If sticking to a rolling pin, use floured hands.

Score the dough into 4 pizza-like slices and prick all over with a fork. Preheat a flat-bottom pan or griddle on high heat and reduce to medium. Do not grease with butter or oil. Fry 3-4 minutes per side. Cool in a towel and serve with jam.

Scots pronounce scone to rhyme with “gone” or “lawn,” whereas we Americans (and many in southern England) rhyme scone with “bone” or “own.” Alexa’s U.K. version says Scots use the correct pronunciation.

MOON Co-op doesn’t carry tattie scones, but it does have our area’s best leavened scones, made by Oxford’s Kate Currie.

MOON Co-op Grocery is Oxford’s consumer-owned full-service grocery featuring natural, local, organic, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products. MOON Co-op, located at 516 S. Locust St. in Oxford, is open to the public every day. www.mooncoop.coop.

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