Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cullen Skink, Cows that Wink, and Felonious Fajitas

“Everyone has a risk muscle. You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don’t it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day.” (Roger Von Oech)

Recently Paul and I visited the town of Cullen with his parents. It’s a lovely place full of 19th century fishermen’s cottages and narrow streets. We checked out the local landmark Bowfiddle Rock, a uniquely formed rock along the craggy coastline. I adore the coast in northeast Scotland. Steep, rocky cliffs overlook blue water and compliment a soundtrack of crashing waves and keening seagulls. This is why I came here.

Paul’s stepmom, who is from the area, took us to a café that reportedly serves the best cullen skink in the area. That’s a fish soup whose name comes from the Gaelic word for “essence.” I was dubious about this soup made of haddock, but decided to give it a go. It’s creamy and not at all fishy - a bit like New England clam chowder but even better. I loved it! Afterwards, we took a drive and I got a close up interview with some highland cattle. These cows are known for their long hair and friendly personalities. They’re very photogenic and eagerly left their dinner of fine local hay to pose for my pictures. One of them, who should be a bovine model with a proper agent, seemed to wink at me and say “hey, baby – check out my horns.” We have longhorn cows in Texas, but they certainly don’t come with such long hair.

I’ve gotten very excited about cooking lately, ever since my dad turned me on to Amazon’s new grocery products in the UK. They have a number of small importers who sell such treasures as chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, green chilis, and even Stubb’s BBQ sauce from Austin! I’ve also been inspired by the recipe blog Homesick Texan, written by a Texas native living in New York where she can’t find all her preferred ingredients. The homemade varieties of food are a hell of a lot better than the crap that passes for Tex-Mex in the supermarkets here. Old El Paso has cornered the British “Mexican” market, selling fajita kits that include things like Bar-B-Que sauce and crispy fried chicken. Perhaps it was a bit of homesickness talking, but I actually wrote to them and told them BBQ sauce and fried chicken do not belong in fajitas. I begged them to hire someone in product management who actually knows something about Tex-Mex cuisine. Maybe they’ll hire me! What a laugh that would be.

Photos: Bowfiddle rock, beach photos, cullen skink highland cattle

Song of the day: The Bluest Eyes in Texas by Restless Heart

(yeah, I know it’s not Scottish. It’s stuck in my head because of an essay I’m writing)

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