The Good Scots Diet

The Spring 2009 issue of Wise Traditions, a quarterly sent by the Weston A Price Foundation to its members, has an article by Katherine Czapp about traditional Scottish food. They too ate fermented food (pp. 56-7):

Farmers who grew their own oats but sent them to the local mill . . . received in return a bag of “sids” — the inner husks of the oats . . . From these sids, an ancient Celtic dish called “sowans” (or sowens) was made.

The sids were soaked in water for approximately one week (or even more) until they were well-soured.

Sowans takes more than week to make. Presumably the ancient Celts discovered this method of souring by accident and kept doing it because the result tasted good. It’s an example of how, in the right situation, what tastes good guides us to a good diet.

3 Replies to “The Good Scots Diet”

  1. Okay, you’ve got me going on this whole fermented foods thing now. Here are a couple of interesting links:

    From Applied Environmental Microbiology:

    “Administration of different Lactobacillus strains in fermented oatmeal soup: in vivo colonization of human intestinal mucosa and effect on the indigenous flora.”

    And a recipe for oatmeal fermented by adding miso and leaving it overnight:

    South River Porridge
    1 cup rolled oats
    2 cups water
    2 teaspoons light miso (see note below)

    Cook oatmeal in the evening 5-10 min., or until water is absorbed. (Do not use salt in the cooking.) Let oatmeal cool down to body temperature and then stir miso thoroughly into the warm cereal. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature (about 70°). Reheat in the morning (without boiling) and serve.

    Without imparting a noticeable taste of its own, the enzymatic power of the miso will liquefy the cereal, unlocking its essential nutrition, creating a wholesome sweet taste as it ferments overnight.

  2. Until recently I’d only ever known one way of eating porridge: hot and made with milk. Then I started learning about all its history and all the different ways of making it and serving it up. It’s amazing stuff.

    The classic piece of history is that Scottish folk traditionally cooked up a large batch of porridge of oats (in water), added a bit of salt, and poured it in to a kitchen draw. Once set, slices could be cut and it would be eaten right through the week. I found this difficult to believe but after some research, I’m sure it’s true.

    I’m still to add salt, but it’s actually quite nice eaten cold. You can use quick oats or regular (better GI), add maybe half as much water as you would milk (maybe mix in some raisins or nuts), and leave it overnight. It turns slightly jelly like, but is actually quite nice. Instead of water, try adding orange juice…I tried it once with pure Tropicana tropical juice and it tasted like a pudding! (Of course, if you don’t like the idea of water, just use cold milk and leave it overnight).

    ps – Seth, thanks for answering my earlier question re foods stored in brine etc.

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