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Don’t be fooled: Scotch egg not Scottish

If you haven’t had a Scotch egg before, it is a pub and picnic food delicacy you should try.

However, don’t be fooled. A Scotch egg is actually of English origin (Yorkshire). First, no self-respecting Scot would use the term Scotch for anything other than whisky. And no, I did not misspell whisky. We Americans add the clearly unnecessary “e.” The Scots are more concise.

The term Scotch is often maligned and misused. A person from Scotland is a Scot or Scottish, but never Scotch. Nevertheless, a badly labeled Scotch egg is quite tasty. It is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breaded and fried. Originally a snack for wealthy travelers, it is now more of an appetizer. It is usually served with some kind of dipping sauce.

To “scotch” something can also mean to thwart it or stop it. This comes from using a wedge as a scotch to prevent a wheel from rolling. I can tolerate a Scotch pine for Christmas, and I do enjoy Scotch broth, which is a tasty barley soup. However, as for Scotch Tape, the brand name Scotch came about in 1930 and was rooted in old-fashioned racism. While Richard Drew was testing his first masking tape to determine how much adhesive he needed to add, he became frustrated with the sample tape and exclaimed, “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it.” This perpetuated the stereotype that Scots are, shall we say ... frugal. Not true. They simply experienced poverty.

The Scots are an ingenious, practical people with a wonderful sense of humor. They are known for engineering and shipbuilding. Where the English would have draw bridges over their moats surrounding their castle, the Scots would have drop bridges, which left their uninvited guests and enemies cold and wet. In older Scottish houses, there would be an intentionally designed higher step or two on the way upstairs. Someone unfamiliar with the house, perhaps a burglar or intruder, would undoubtedly stumble on that step alerting the owners to their presence.

Inventions/discoveries by Scots are too numerous to mention. A short list includes: the steam engine, propeller, penicillin, insulin, telephone, TV, radar, the BBC, hypnotism, the theory of electromagnetism, logarithms, modern economics, universal standard time, the Kelvin scale, the decimal point, refrigeration, Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan, Nessie, Rabbie Burns, the raincoat, Dolly the cloned sheep, Macadam paved roads, the tire and the bicycle. (Where would Durangoans be without that?)

And in sport, the shot put, hammer throw, curling, golf and perhaps soccer. There are reports that the Celts invented soccer by kicking around the severed head of the opposing chieftain after a victory in battle. A more modern invention is the “Glasgow kiss,” which is a sharp head-butt to the nose. Scots did not invent the bagpipes, but they have made them famous.

As for Scottish cuisine, it is unique and much more than fish and chips. Fabulous seafood, venison, grouse, lamb, neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes), Cullen Skink, porridge, scones, shortbread, Dundee cake, Cranachan (dessert with whisky), marmalade and the national dish of haggis, which goes down better if you have it before learning what is in it.

So, let’s recap: Boycott Scotch Tape, but do try a Scotch egg accompanied by a wee dram of single malt Scotch. El Moro Spirits and Tavern has the best Scotch egg and the best single malt Scotch selection in Durango. It is easy to find at 945 Main Ave. To further dispel the Scottish myth of frugality, I will personally pay for the first 10 Scotch egg orders at El Moro. Just say the code words “Hamish sent me” and it will be complimentary. For the wee dram, you’re on your own.

Jim Cross is a retired Fort Lewis College professor and basketball coach.