Scottish cuisine: a natural choice for fusion

James Cochran’s signature style fuses his Jamaican and Scottish heritage in exciting new ways, but this is not the first time Scottish cooking has been blended with the tastes and aromas of another culture’s cuisine.

Traditional Scottish cuisine

Traditional Scottish cooking relies on its natural resources of game, fish, and seafood, which have been available in abundance for millennia. As agriculture was introduced, the staple crops were oats and barley, which grew better in the country’s difficult soil. Early Scots society was highly mobile, and it was common for them to carry bags of oatmeal with them that could quickly be transformed into a basic porridge, or griddled as oatcakes.

Roman Influence

Early evidence of the Scots integrating foreign influences into their cuisine comes during the Roman invasion of Britain. Though they never secured much of a foothold north of the border, Roman quartermasters along the length of Hadrian’s Wall would trade with the locals, exchanging their recent imports such as pheasants, onions, parsnips, turnips, and celery for beef, oysters, and barley. Apples, pears, plums, and cherries – cultivated by the Roman Britons – also made it into Scotland around this time.

Gift from the North

Even Scotland’s most famous dish, haggis, was welcomed to the country from abroad, being introduced by Norse invaders, who would store offal, or other low-quality meat in an inexpensive container (a sheep or pig’s stomach) as a form of preserving it. When the early Scots combined these with their oatmeal pouches, they invented a national dish.

Vive la France

In the late Middle Ages, Mary Queen of Scots returned from Europe with a retinue of French cooks who helped develop Scottish cuisine further, introducing a range of rich sauces served with local game, as well as a lot of cooking terminology still used in Scotland today.

Global influence

The 19th and 20th centuries saw mass immigration to Scotland from Italy, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Each new influx affected Scottish cuisine in unexpected ways, whether it be the reintroduction of fresh produce from the Italians, or an abundance of spices from further afield that lead to the invention of homegrown Scottish dishes like chicken tikka masala.

Scottish cooking has a fine tradition of fusing itself with other cuisines from around the world, and James Cochran is proud to continue that tradition, by bringing his Jamaican heritage to bear on his Scottish background.

aleksey nikulin