Taxi - Getty Images
Ah, Scotland, land of bagpipes and Burns, heather and Highlands and, er... the deep-fried Mars Bar? Thankfully, there's much more to modern Scottish food than a bit of batter. Those same unspoiled landscapes which grace a thousand shortbread tins produce superb meat, fruit and vegetables, while the cold, clear waters around the coast are famous for their high-quality seafood, which can be found on the menu at some of the world's best restaurants. Great ingredients, simply prepared, are the watchwords of Scottish cookery, whether it's a hearty winter stew or a plate of traditionally smoked salmon - so tuck in, and guid health to ye!
Here is our top 10 Scottish food and drink, from MSN Food
Scottish haggis in a butcher's window
You can't have a round-up of Scottish classics without haggis, an ancient Highland favourite that's still going strong today. The heavily spiced mixture of sheep offal and oats isn't to everyone's taste, but if you haven't tasted it as part of a traditional Scottish breakfast, alongside tattie scones and a wee dram to get the circulation going, or with neeps (turnips) and a whisky sauce then you're probably not in a position to judge!
2. Scotch beef
Scotch beef is justly famous - all that rain produces lush grass, which, in turn, makes for very tasty meat. The Aberdeen Angus, a hardy native with an exceptional flavour, is now farmed from New Zealand to Nova Scotia, so look for the 'Scotch Beef' PGI mark to ensure you're getting the real deal. You don't get more Scottish than Mey Selections beef, from the northern Highlands, though, which uses traditional methods with superb results.
Visit the Mey Selections website
You might not realise it, but the traditional West Country cream tea is based around an import from north of the border, where it traditionally signified a flat bread cooked on a girdle (or griddle) over an open fire, also known as a bannock - the modern version is perfect with some Dundee marmalade. (Interestingly, 99% of Scots pronounce scone to rhyme with 'gone', as opposed to only two-thirds of Britons as a whole.)
Scotland is rightly famous for its superb salmon
Thanks to its long coastline, and cold, clean water, Scottish fish and shellfish is the envy of the world, with salmon, scallops, lobster and langoustine finding their way on to menus around Europe. Inland, in the crystal clear lochs, fish farming has helped salmon, previously the preserve of the wealthy, to become Britain's favourite fish.
Scotland may be known as the homeland of best whisky, with over 2,500 different varieties produced, but being canny people, the Scottish have moved into gin as well. Caorunn, which comes from the Gaelic word for rowan berry, the defining botanical in the gin, is complemented by four other Celtic flavours, including heather and bog myrtle, to give a decidedly Caledonian twist on a gin and tonic.
Visit the Caorunn website
6. Ice cream
Scotland's many Italian immigrants have helped to make it the ice cream capital of Britain - inspired by the great quality milk, many set up gelati parlours. Brought up on such artisan delights, Scotland takes its ice cream very seriously - as anyone who tastes Mackies will testify. This traditional Aberdeenshire product, made with fresh milk and double cream, is deliciously rich: somehow, one scoop is never enough!
Visit the Mackies ice cream website
If England is famed for its strawberries, the Scots have claimed the raspberry as one of their own, producing some of the finest fruit in the world. The long Scottish summer days and mild climate combine to produce a wide range of superb berries and currants, including blaeberries (or blueberries, in an English translation) and tayberries, a home-grown raspberry/blackberry cross with a deep, sweet flavour.
The hardy oat has been a mainstay of the Scottish diet since medieval times, and they continue to take their porridge very seriously north of the border: no instant versions will cut the mustard in a country which holds annual porridge championships. Traditionally-minded Scots spurn luxuries such as milk or sugar, preferring their breakfast to be made with water and salt only: the oats are soaked overnight in cold water, then cooked in the morning, using a 12" stirrer called a spirtle to avoid any lumps!
Scots are renowned for their sweet tooth, and one of their most famous exports is shortbread, which can be found in tartan tins in gift shops around the world. Taste the real thing and you can understand why: made with rich Scottish butter and Demerara sugar, if there's anything finer for washing down a cup of tea, we're yet to find it.
Every August, foodies celebrate the Glorious Twelfth (August 12), when the hunting season opens for one of Britain's most prized birds, the famous grouse, which is found on moors across Scotland. Although not all of us can afford a taste, venison, which is low in fat and high in flavour, is within everyone's reach: try steaks,sausages, or even a luxurious pate, all widely available.
What do you think? Have we left out your favourite Welsh food or drink item? Let us know in thecommentsbelow.
Share this story with friends and family, join MSN Food on Facebook
Be the first to see the latest news, features and what we're up to at MSN Food,follow MSN Food on Twitter