Fisherman’s friend

Today is St Andrew’s day, St Andrew the patron saint of Scotland and Barbados, Greece, Romania and Russia; his cross which was X-shaped appears on many flags, and is known as a saltire. Here  in the British isles, the white saltire on a blue background,  is chiefly associated with Scotland, however it can be seen other flags too.

St Andrew was one of Jesus’s disciples and was crucified on saltire shaped cross by the Romans in Greece and apparently his remains were kept, and after being taken to Constantinople they ended up in Amalfi where they still are. However, some of his relics were taken to other places including Scotland and it was believed that Andrew himself appeared to the Picts before a battle in 832AD and a saltire was seen in the sky over the battlefield on which the Picts were victorious… and was then adopted as the symbol for Scotland. Andrew himself became patron saint of the country in the 1300’s and some of his bones are now in Edinburgh cathedral. As well as being the patron saint of Scotland he is also takes care of  fishmongers,  singers and unmarried women, and is a specialist in helping with gout and sore throats and women who want to have children.

Some of the finest food comes from Scotland, and there are wonderful recipes using its produce, from home-cooking and everyday fare to the finest of fine dining. here’s a little selection of delicious things you might find on a Scottish menu:


  • barefit broth (barley and vegetables)
  • cock-a-leekie
  • powsowdie (sheep’s head… not an everyday item in a butcher’s shop these days I wouldn’t have thought!)
  • tattie soup

bannocks, biscuits and cakes:

  • Ardentinny drop bannocks
  • perkins (spiced biscuits)
  • tantallon (vanilla biscuits)
  • black bun
  • the famous Dundee cake, and my favourite, seed cake


  • clootie dumpling (steamed pudding with fruit and sometimes spice)
  • currant duff (steamed suet pudding with apple, fruit, spice… I guess everyone has their own recipe inherited from their mothers and grandmothers!)
  • grosset fool (grossets are gooseberries – I guess another Scottish word from French, groseilliers)

…and other nice things, such as

  • minced collops (minced meat with onions and oatmeal)
  • boiled gigot (another french word, meaning leg in this case of lamb or mutton)
  • girdle scones (griddle scones)
  • tablet (a type of toffee)

I love gingerbread, so here is a recipe for Hamilton gingerbread:

  • 6 oz butter
  • 6 oz brown sugar
  • 6 oz treacle
  • 1 lb self-raising flour
  • 2+ tsp ground ginger (or more if you like it hot!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in a little cold water)
  • milk
  1. cream together butter, sugar and treacle
  2. stir in sieved flour, ginger, 1 tsp baking soda and enough milk to make a soft dropping consistency
  3. pour into a 10″ well-greased, lined, shallow baking tin and bake for 350ºF, 180ºC, gas mark 4, for about 1½ hours (check it isn’t getting to brown and maybe turn the oven down a smidge… cooking times might vary so keep an eye on it as it gets near the 90 minutes!)
  4. cut into squares or slices when cold

I may make some of this and take it to my English conversation class tomorrow – we always try and include things about our country, as well as just the language!

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