I spied Cullen Skink on the Scottish pub menu the evening we arrived in Aberdeen. What in the world is a skink doing in a Scottish soup? Don’t they live in Australia? I have to think the North Sea is a bit nippy for the wee slitherers.
However at that moment I was already tied up in culinary matters summoning my courage for the traditional Scottish Haggis that I had ordered while my adventurous spirit was fresh off the plane.
You know Haggis …that yummy combination of sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs) with some spices, onion, oatmeal and suet blended in. Sounds like a nice light meal don’t you think? I would be able to throw a few hay bales around the next day if required.
The mixture is then traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for three hours. These days regular sausage casing is often substituted for the actual stomach. Thank the patron saint of Scottish food for small mercies my dinner arrived without a stomach, real or artificial.
The next morning Duncan, my faithful tour guide for the day, began whisking me around the coast north of Aberdeen through charming spots like Turrif, Macduff, Portsoy and Sandend.
You will recall that Duncan had me racing about castles, fields, cliffs and beaches like a tourist imitation of the Tasmanian devil. By 1:30 in the afternoon I contemplated having a bite out of Duncan’s arm if we didn’t stop for lunch.
So it was in picturesque Cullen when Duncan kindly noticed I was about to chew on his wrist and suggested we stop for lunch. “Excellent idea”, I replied.
The great thing when one is ravenous, is that lizard soup really doesn’t sound so bad. We were in Cullen after all and one should order the namesake dish. Duncan thought it so fortunate that I would have the opportunity!
He had hoped we might have lunch at the golf course but the season was too early and the place closed. With gale force winds coming off the sea I found it hard to imagine this would be prime time for teeing off.
Eventually after two more stops at eating establishments that were closed in the off season (My jaws now perilously close to Duncan’s ankle) we found ourselves at the church. This place of worship definitely had an entrepreneurial spirit with its quaint eating area and the rest of the previous pew lined floor jammed with antiques.
While I awaited my arrival of gumbo and to distract myself from gnawing on nearby customers, I wandered through the unique finds in the antique section in search of souvenirs.
Too bad this one was sold.
I’m sure I could have fit this guy in my carry on.
What exactly is Cullen Skink?
At last Duncan called me over as my Cullen Skink soup had arrived. As I sat down on the wooden church pew with the gumbo steaming before me I leaned forward and inquired of Duncan “So what exactly is in this soup?”
I braced myself for the response. “Oh smoked haddock, onions, potatoes and milk I think”, he calmly replied as he set about eating his smoked salmon.
No lizard? Why is the soup called skink if there is no skink? Apparently Duncan was as hungry as I as he didn’t hear me ask the question. I ate a most delicious bowl of chowder. Can anyone tell me about skink soup?
These wee twins were having their own lunch on our way out of Cullen.
What is the most unusual thing you have eaten in your travels?
Photo credit- Image #2 JJ Harrison – Wikimedia