4 Scottish culinary and cultural experiences

Over the past four months, I have had four quintessentially Scottish experiences that have really enriched my experience of living in Edinburgh.

1.    Eating haggis, tatties and neeps

Haggis. neeps and tatties

“You have to try Haggis” – the words uttered to me by countless people before I departed for Scotland. Haggis is one of Scotland’s national dish and contains a variety of organs from a Sheep (I’ll leave it at that for the more squeamish readers). I come from a meat-eating country, so I was naturally curious and excited to try Haggis. My first sighting of Haggis was in a Tesco express fridge on the afternoon I arrived in Edinburgh. However, I felt that it would be best to be served haggis made by the experts, rather than to attempt to cook it myself. Luckily, the Business School took the MSc IBEM class out for lunch at 52 North, one street away from campus. It was here that many of us sampled a crumbed and deep fried version of Haggis. It was accompanied by a peppery dipping sauce and it was quite tasty.

But my Haggis experience wouldn’t be complete until I added its two companions – “tatties” (mashed potatoes) and “neeps” (mashed tunrip) .  I finally had the full experience with the Hare and Hounds Running Club in November when they served us a tasty dish, and I really enjoyed it. Certainly worth a try!

Haggis is a meat-dish (there are vegetarian options available that are also tasty!) containing sheeps heart, liver and lungs, with onion, oatmeal, spices, suet and salt.

Dancing at a Ceilidh

A ceilidh is a Scottish social gathering that involves dancing with partners to Gaelic folk music. Ceilidh’s are great fun and you will work up a sweat! The Hare and Hounds Running Club hosted a Ceilidh after the Braids Hill Cross Country Race for the club, and other University running clubs from Manchester and Glasgow, to name a few. Some of the Scottish club members wore kilts and the atmosphere was truly fantastic and proudly Scottish.

We gathered in a hall above Potterrow and the evening started with a delicious meal of haggis, neeps and tatties, followed by ceilidh dancing. There was a live band with an enthusiastic instructor who paired us up or put us in small groups and then delivered instructions such as “walk side-by-side, then swap”, “spin your partner around then swap partners” and “clap on the fourth beat.”

The best thing about ceilidh dancing is that you don’t have to have the most rhythm or be a great dancer – if you have energy and stamina you will have a great time! It was good fun and a great way to meet lots of people because you are always laughing and swapping partners. If you have the chance to attend a Ceilidh whilst at UEBS, I would highly recommend it!

3.    Listening to bagpipes

Bagpipes are synonymous with Scotland and throughout the city you’ll find lots of people playing the bagpipes on a daily basis. It is worth stopping to enjoy the music and watch the bagpipers to discover the skill that is involved.  The best place to find someone playing the bagpipes is anywhere along the Royal Mile.

4.   Whiskey tasting

During Welcome Week in September, the Business School invited the MSc IBEM class to Glenkinchie Whiskey Distillery, where we were taken through the entire process of making whiskey by a brilliant Scottish tour guide. At the end of the tour we tasted the whiskey and it was a really culturally rich experience. It is worth popping in to any of Edinburgh’s Whiskey shops or the Whiskey Experience on the Royal Mile to learn more about the art and skill of whiskey making.






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Natasha Ashley

Natasha Lynne Ashley

Natasha is South African and a recipient of the prestigious Skye Scholarship. She is a current MSc International Business and Emerging Markets student at UEBS and a member of the University of Edinburgh Hare and Hounds Running Club. She loves exercise, food and travelling.