It’s practically a stereotype of Scottish cuisine that if it’s not made in a sheep’s stomach, then it’s deep fried. In fact, the scientists have found the average Scot’s diet has more fat and salt, fewer vegetables, and less fruit than the rest of the United Kingdom. Your ordinary chippy in a metropolitan area might resemble a food stand at an American county fair, with the oddest foods imaginable thrown right into the fryer with the cod and chips. If you’re lucky (and happen to carry a mini-defibrillator), here’s a sampling of what you’ll find on the menu.
1. Mars Bar
Other than fish and chips, this is the most widespread deep-fried food found in Scotland. Allegedly created in the Haven Chip Bar (now The Carron) in Stonehaven, it is simply a Mars bar thrown into the deep fryer and sold as a novelty item. Interestingly enough, news pieces critical of the deep fried Scottish diet that use the fried Mars bar as an example have actually helped increase its popularity. As of 2004, 22% of chip shops in Scotland sold them, while an additional 17% formerly sold them. Mars, Inc., of course, doesn’t endorse the frying of their candy bars.
First fried back in the 1970s, deep fried pizza can come in one of two ways: either battered first (also known as Pizza Crunch) or thrown right into the fryer. You can either order them as a supper (with chips) or as a single (no chips). In Edinburgh and chippies in eastern Scotland, you can get them “with salt and sauce”, where the pizza is covered in brown sauce before being fryer, while western chippies will serve them with salt and vinegar. Author’s note: as I was thinking to myself how good it looked, I got a sharp brief pain in my chest. Most likely a warning.
Yet another food that wasn’t terribly healthy to begin with, Scotland decided that it needed to be kicked up a notch to levels that would make your physician throw up a little in his mouth. I had one of these originally at a fair and I’d kind of expected a full-on cheeseburger dunked into the fryer. Disappointingly, that’s not what I received, as the deep fried cheeseburger is really just the beef patty and cheese slice battered and fried. The fried batter acts as the bun. Get yourself some ketchup and mustard to dip it in and enjoy its deliciousness.
4. Cadbury Crème Egg
Cream-filled chocolate eggs first manufactured by the Cadbury Brothers in 1923, Scotland was already familiar with frying eggs in batter when someone decided that this sweet could use the Mars bar treatment and go into the fryer. Each Cardbury Egg has 150 calories on its own, but the number jumps up to 350 after frying. For added heart-attack inducement, some online recipes replicate the Scotch egg but with cookie crumbs instead of sausage. One can find them offered from New Year’s Day through Easter when the company makes the non-fried eggs available to the public.
5. Irn-Bru Battered Butterballs
Irn-Bru is a fruit-flavored soda made in Scotland since 1901, originally known as Iron Brew. It’s billed as “Scotland’s Other National Drink” (after Scotch whiskey), the soda is mixed in with the batter that coats frozen cubes of butter before being put into the fryer. The desert treat is the creation of The Fiddler’s Elbow’s head chef Simon Robertson who calls them “Braveheart Butter Balls”. Perhaps a bit fancier than some of the other entries, the pub serves it with Irn-Bru ice cream. If you think your heart can take it, be sure to find The Fiddler’s Elbow in Edinburgh and have a go.
Don’t all those look good? I think I’ll go have some, followed by bypass surgery.