Scotland might not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about culinary epicenters, but the country has so much to offer in terms of food and has only recently been discovered by foodies.  I tried a variety of Scottish specialties while traveling across the country, and I can tell you that it's quite the experience, ranging from greasy pub grub to gourmet seafood and game.  Whether you are studying abroad, visiting Edinburgh for a weekend, or venturing on a comprehensive golf vacation, the foodie in all of us has to try these must-try Scottish foods (and drinks too).  

1. Scottish Smoked Salmon

Yes, smoked salmon might not seem like a super unique cultural dish, but Scottish smoked salmon is truly the creme de la creme of salmon.  Freshly caught from the North Sea, the salmon is smoked to perfection, offering a smooth, almost butter-like flavor. I love all smoked salmon, but the Scottish stuff is definitely the best I've tried.  Oh and did I mention, you can literally find it everywhere and prepared any way, and it's all great quality?

Addie Christianson

2. Haggis

Truly a classic, haggis is probably the most infamous Scottish food.  And yes, it is the stomach and organs of a sheep, but it is also a delicacy and one that the Scots take very seriously.  Haggis does not have to be prepared in the traditional way.  I tried a haggis bonbon which was heavily seasoned and fried.  It was delicious and I nearly forgot that I was eating haggis!

3. Fish and Chips

Haggis might be a classic Scottish food, but when it comes to British classics, fish and chips cannot be ignored.  The best fish and chips in the British Isles are arguably found in Scotland, with their large fishing industry and abundant coastline.  Halibut is the favorite fish while cod is a close second, but either way, the Scots know how to fry up their fish.  Greasy grub at its finest!

4. Scotch*

Scotch is short for Scotch whiskey which is, as the name suggests, the whiskey distilled in Scotland.  The Scots claim that it is "the water of life," and they take their Scotch very seriously.  It's a strong and robustly flavored liquor that imitates the often rugged environment of the country, which is also full of warmth and comfort.  Sipping a single malt by the fire is a quintessential Scottish experience.  

*The drinking age in Scotland is 18.  Rest assured, no illegal consumptions were made to write up this article.  

5. Black Pudding

This is another slightly gruesome Scottish food creation that proves to be delicious.  Black Pudding is a kind of pig's blood sausage that takes on a sort of cakey texture and shape.  While it might sound nasty, black pudding is super tasty and is an important part of the traditional Scottish Breakfast.  

6. Traditional Scottish Breakfast

Speaking of Scottish breakfasts, a traditional breakfast is a must-try for anyone visiting Scotland.  It consists of eggs, British bacon, black pudding, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, and sometimes beans or a scone.  No doubt, the breakfast is extremely filling, but proves to be the perfect start to your jam-packed day of touring/golf.  

Addie Christianson

7. Gin (and usually Tonic)

Nobody would ever question the importance and significance of Scotch in Scottish culture, but there is a newcomer to the Scottish bar scene.  Gin is being dubbed as the hippest drink of the moment and that is thanks to the UK, especially cities like London and Edinburgh.  Gin is what to get in Edinburgh, and there are bars dedicated to serving up perfect gin and tonic. The flavors are abundant, making it fun to pick and choose between both the gins and the tonics.   

8. Fish Pie

Although fish pie doesn't sound all that appealing, it is one of my top picks for must-try Scottish foods.  Think chicken pot pie with smoked salmon, shrimp, and cod all thrown in to replace the chicken.  Load the pie up with a healthy serving of mashed potatoes and you have yourself a masterpiece of a fish pie.  The Scots do serve the finest comfort food, and a good fish pie lives up to that reputation better than any dish.  

Addie Christianson

9. Toast with Heather Honey and/or Dundee Marmalade

Another Scottish breakfast gem (the Scots really love breakfast, I guess), toast with toppings is very popular.  Heather honey is a local kind of honey made with pollen from heather, a beautiful common Scottish plant.  It's a creamier kind of honey that pairs beautifully with toast.  Dundee Marmalade is famous across the UK as being one of the finest.  Toast with marmalade and a cup 'a tea and you've got yourself a very British morning.  

10. Sticky Toffee Pudding

Last but not least, we've got what I consider the grand dame of Scottish cuisine: sticky toffee pudding. Pudding in the UK is not the kind of pudding that Americans know.  It's actually the British term for cake or cake-like desserts (think bread pudding, plum pudding). Sticky Toffee Pudding is a famous must-try Scottish food and dessert.  It is a caramel-drenched toffee cake served with vanilla or clotted cream ice cream.  The stuff literally melts in your mouth and is probably up there in my list of favorite desserts.  It is an absolute must-try!

Addie Christianson