The History of Scottish Food

Updated March 23, 2017

The history of Scottish food has much to do with oats -- an agricultural staple -- dairy products from livestock, and fish, like salmon and trout. Scottish food has Celtic, Norse, French and English influences, according to the online food encyclopedia,

Medieval Times

Most Scots could not afford to eat meat regularly. They ate more dairy foods than meat. Cheese was a staple, as was bread. Haggis is thought to have originated as a dish invented for travel. Haggis, a sausage consisting of scraps and organs mixed with oatmeal and spices, was cooked in a pig's or sheep's stomach, according to history documented at the Woodside Inn.

Highlanders & Lowlanders

Highlanders consumed a diet consisting of oatmeal porridge, oat or barley cakes, milk, cheese, eggs, venison and beef. Lowlanders ate more meat and fish, along with dairy foods before the mid-1500s. Later, oats and barley became more common in the diet as the population increased.

16th Century and Beyond

During the reign of Queen Mary in the 16th century, many French cooks were part of the household staff. The nobility ate French cuisine, according to Practically Edible. French influence faded after the English takeover and by the 18th century, most Scots ate a diet consisting of oatcakes, game, some domestic meat, seafood, seaweed, wine, ale, and whisky. Oats, haggis, porridge, salmon, shepherd's pie and fisherman's -- pie made of fish and potatoes -- remain favourites to this day.

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About the Author

Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.