Finding Scotland, Stateside

American Adventures, Edinburgh Expeditions

It’s been nearly three months since I left Scotland. Strangely, I fell back into the rhythm of living back home without too much difficulty. I expected to be pulling my out my hair, moaning, mourning. But I’m not.

There have been a few things that have made the transition back to America easy. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to get lots of foods I had grown accustomed to, the ale I grew to love, and miss the friends I had made.

The food isn’t too difficult. Mostly I ate things like risotto, which I can easily make in America. I miss the sweets quite a bit, but have been sent care packages from friends with delicious delicious chocolate. Walker’s shortbread is an easy fix, too. Tea isn’t an issue, as my mum and I are very picky tea drinkers and prefer the finest in Tesco supermarket tea (my rent is tea bags. I brought back 800. And McVities digestives. I’m good for a few months).

The real trouble? Haggis. Oh my goodness. It’s so good! Especially with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes).

The ale, that was a real concern. I developed a taste for Scottish ales. Innis & Gunn is a real favourite. Imagine my surprise when I found that a local sandwich bar had it on draught, a rare enough thing in Edinburgh, where it’s brewed. That was an amazing discovery. And I can get it bottled at some specialty grocery stores! Win!

Friends, well, thank goodness for Skype! Every day I’m speaking to someone I met in Scotland, some days more than one. And the Far Off Places crew has had conference skypes, which has been awesome to speak with everyone. I’ve even managed to have lunch with one of my Edinburgh friends (he was visiting Boston from LA, was awesome to see him).

And there is always the possibility for visits, both to Edinburgh, and around the world. I’ve friends on nearly every continent, it’s now just a case of traveling to see them!

A recipe for an unexpected meal

Edinburgh Expeditions

Following the success of The Recipe Given to Us by the Stoned Irishman back in May (onions, garlic, courgette, pasta and salmon in a cream sauce), we decided that we would have our entire meal planned by strangers. This included a toast, cocktail, and a three course meal.

Armed with a notebook, pen and bouquet of yellow roses, my friends and I hit the streets of Edinburgh to have locals and tourists alike plan our dinner party.

The cocktail was given to us first by a group of skateboarders in Bristo Square. The cocktail? A Jakeyboy, half Buckfast and half cider. We couldn’t find Buckfast, so this was nixed in favour of traditional cocktails.

An elderly gentleman gave us the starter–“You’ll want a soup,” he said. “A nice Scotch broth. Or perhaps borscht.” With the suggestion of borscht we also got a story about dining in restaurants in communist Russia. “And the ice cream. You never think of ice cream when you think of communist Russia, but they had the best ice cream.”

Our main was chicken/vegetarian curry (standard Scottish affair, but delicious nevertheless). The dessert a molten chocolate cake–I wasn’t around for either of these suggestions.

Our toasts came from a busker on the Royal Mile, a Portuguese saw-player who wears a top hat. “Salud” is the only one of the three I can remember. Other toasts came from ourselves, the British Navy of Nelson’s era (fittingly, the Sunday toast is ‘to absent friends’ and the occasion for the dinner was a going away party), and a favourite of one of my recently departed American friends which is not repeated in polite company.

We collected stories to tell through the night, including a very sweet one about what you see when you are falling asleep from one of the Royal Mile vendors. One of my friends is an accomplished harpist, so that night when I told the story, we had musical accompaniment.

We gave each person a yellow rose as a thank you for their contribution. The leftovers we used to make bouquets, and the roses are still going strong, sitting on one of the tables in my flat, fully blooming and only slightly touched by brown.

An eclectic evening, but a fantastic one, filled with friends, laughter and the happiest of memories touched with the sadness of our friend’s departure–but her adventures will be wonderful and I look forward to hearing about them.