Food Culture and Tradition

Food, People and Culture Resources

Domestic Life in Scotland


Simplicity and practicality, so much a part of the Scottish diet, are also a part of the Scottish kitchen. Utensils are sturdy and useful rather than ornamental, and many pieces of kitchenware (as well as recipes) have been handed down from mother to daughter. There are few gadgets, fewer luxury-type electrical appliances, and a more limited spice shelf than typically found in North American kitchens. Refrigerators generally are smaller because cold pantries are frequently found as an adjunct to the Scottish kitchen, pantries being practical for food storage in a moderately cool climate.

Greaseproof paper is still widely used for baking pans, iron griddles are still favored for scones and bannocks, and carved thistle presses are still used to shape the traditional Scottish shortbread. But other traditional utensils are declining in general usage. These include the spurtle, a stick with a thistle-shaped handle used for stirring porridge; and the ashete, the traditional oval or rectangular enameled baking dishes with high sides to support a pastry crust. Surprisingly these age-old utensils are being snapped up by collectors and treasured by novice gourmet cooks in other lands.

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