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Archive for the ‘Glasgow’ Category

Well, it’s official. In one week I will be boarding a plane headed to Sydney via Bangkok, on a one way ticket.

It’s hard to really get my head around it all. The fact that I haven’t started packing at all probably helps with that.

Last weekend I managed to head up to Glasgow to see my lovely family one more time before I leave the hemisphere. I realised that having spent the last 12 years of my life in a different continent, whether it was North America, Asia or Australasia, my family have gotten older (and wiser?) and I haven’t been as close and in touch with them as I would like. My ‘baby’ cousin Lucy is 12 years old which seems impossible, my older cousin Martin is married (I was lucky enough to make it to the wedding), and Raymond is in his last year of uni and getting ready to go around the world with his girlfriend.

As excited as I am to head Down Under, it’s definitely going to be hard being so far away yet again. On top of that, I’ll be leaving an amazing home, with the best neighbours I could have asked for, and a job that is the closest to perfect I’ve come so far (I basically get to do this – travel writing – all day, what could be better?).

So here it goes. A week of manic running around and seeing all the faces I’ll miss before I walk through the gate at Heathrow.

That’s my sentimental post of the week. The next one will be more upbeat as I’ll be recounting what is sure to be a fantastic week of celebration and farewell. First stop – a nice little dinner with the one and only Nims at Las Iguanas. As long as I figure out how to get there in the next two hours…

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I know that my last Travel Article of the Week featured Scotland, and I promise I will branch out, but I wanted to stick to the Scottish theme for one more week for two reasons.

First – regarding my post last week about Glasgow trying to get ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ status for chicken tikka masala. The issue actually got quite heated with different groups of Indians claiming it as their own (click here for the article in The Telegraph). A chef who is a descendent of Indians from the Mughal period claims that the tikka masala dish has been passed through the generations for hundreds of years. A food expert says the dish is about 50 years old and has its roots in Punjab. Who knows! But this is just more reason why MP Sarwar should stop wasting time over something so silly. If there hadn’t been such a big fuss about it, Glaswegians could have happily gone on claiming it as their own invention with little challenge and everyone would be happy. Oh well.

Second – On to the new topic of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. About an hour by train from Glasgow, Edinburgh is a much smaller city. I happen to be partial to Glasgow but I will admit that Edinburgh has a certain old world charm to it. The Royal Mile and the Edinburgh castle are both beautiful sites to see. Unfortunately, if you walk the other way down the Royal Mile you come to the Scottish Parliament building which is perhaps one of the biggest eyesores in Britain. Sorry, but it is.

Every August, Edinburgh puts on the biggest arts festival in the world with singing, dancing, theatre, comedy and much more including some very entertaining street performers. Even if you don’t have tickets to see any of the evening shows, you can walk up and down the Royal Mile enjoying the dozens of street acts then find a place in one of the crowded pubs or restaurants – it’s quite likely that you’ll get a mini-performance here too as acts go around promoting their shows with songs and short versions of their plays.

I’ve attended the festival a couple of times myself. I saw a low budget versian of ‘A Chorus Line’ my first time there, I’ve seen singers, a man juggle basketballs while ride a unicycle and a couple of comedians. I once saw a guy swallow a massive sword…yummy

This piece in The Guardian gives some locals tips on how to go about your festival holiday. I’d say the tips in that link are pretty good. I definitely agree that the more people you talk to the better. The Scots are a very friendly chatty group of people and they’ll be happy to share what they know with you!

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For the last few days, I have been in my family’s home city of Glasgow, Scotland to see my oldest cousin get married in my first traditional Scottish wedding. It was fantastic and I wish them all the best, especially while they enjoy their honeymoon in Mexico.

While the focus was on my family and the wedding, it was hard to avoid talking about all that great Scottish food. My parents, flying in from the States, are much more deprived of British treats than myself since it is pretty easy to get almost everything in London that you can get in Glasgow.

But let’s take a look at the food Scotland is known for these days. First, the TAW (Travel Article of the Week) talking about a Scottish invention, the Chicken Tikka Masala. Okay, this isn’t a TRAVEL article, but Scottish food has been on my mind lately, and if you’re ever traveling to Scotland, surely you will want to know what the traditional dishes are!

I think most British people are aware these days that this ‘Indian’ dish has never set foot in India or any other Asian country for that matter and was in fact made by Asian immigrants in the UK trying to make their native dishes appealing to western palates.
But now, one MP has gone further and is trying to get Protected Designation of Origin status for the curry. It is suggested that the dish was invented in a West End Indian restaurant in Glasgow. I know that Scotland is very proud of all the things it has invented, but I’m not sure if putting a motion through the House of Commons about Chicken Tikka Masala is the best use of any MPs time.
Just a thought. Here’s the article.

Another MP, Kerry McCarthy mentions it on her blog and there are a few interesting comments, particularly pointing out the cost of things like this. I think that those commenters may feel the same way I do – makes for an interesting news article, but not a great way to spend your time when you are being paid by the public perhaps? McCarthy says, “I think it falls into the category of things that you know perfectly well you’re not going to achieve, but you’re going to have some fun in the meantime.” Read her blog here. True statement I imagine, but is having fun what MPs are supposed to do? Don’t we have other problems that should be more time consuming? Like…unemployment for instance? Okay fine, I happen to be unemployed and rather apathetic to tikka masala’s protection status so my opinion may be biased…

I personally prefer a more spicy curry instead of the mild taste of tikka masala, a preference probably solidified by spending six months eating food covered in red chilli flakes in Southeast Asia. But, I do find it interesting that an Indian inspired dish is one of the most popular meals in all of Britain. I won’t try to prove here that Britain is a place where all cultures mix harmoniously and nobody cares what colour your skin is because I’d be fooling myself and you, but the popularity of this curry must say something about how much eastern cultures have changed and influenced our own ‘western’ ways, right?

This post is supposed to be about Scottish food, so lets move on. My parents and I ate haggis, sausage rolls, Scotch pies and sticky toffee pudding, all of which I associate with Scotland although some may just be British. Sausage rolls are my personal favourite and I buy them for £1.49 for two, at Greggs just down the road from my house in London.

My American friends all think haggis, along with black pudding, is strange and rather disgusting, but I think they just haven’t given them a chance. Haggis has become a sophisticated dish these days apparently. At a lunch in Princes Square my mum and dad both had ‘Haggis Gâteaux’ and then later that night at Mitchells for dinner, my dad and I enjoyed a ‘Haggis Tower.’ My dad believes the Princes Square lunch haggis was better, I enjoyed tasting both; they were more or less the same dish. I didn’t know haggis could be included in such a fancy menu item however, and it just goes to show you how far it has come. If you’re really interested there is a whole list of Scottish food complete with descriptions here.

I think my winner for highest fat and sugar content might have to be the deep fried Mars bar. I always thought this was an urban legend, I had heard about these things, but never once in my life had I seen it appear on a menu. Until Dublin. I was under the impression that this pudding was traditionally Scottish as well, but while visiting a friend in Dublin, Ireland over a year ago, I discovered the deep fried Mars bar on a pub menu. Obviously I ordered it. Just try to imagine a warm Mars bar, soft enough to melt in your mouth, covered in hot, crunchy, sweet, fried dough, accompanied by a cold scoop of ice cream. I’m pretty sure that covered my caloric intake for the entire weekend.

This is getting rather lengthy so I’ll end it here by asking what your favourite British food is? My vote is definitely for the sausage roll, as long as it’s hot and the pastry is flaky. Although I do like a good fish and chips once in awhile. Preferably wrapped in newspaper with tartare sauce for the fish and chips drowning in vinegar. And they wonder why the Brits are getting fatter these days… Is there such a thing as a healthy British meal??

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