I picked up a cook book, Recipes From Scotland in a second hand bookshop a year or so again. Mainly because it looked genuinely old and I was interested in the wonders that could be kept within its tartan bound cover. The wonders, one must say, generally involve the offal of fish. I have heard of Cod Liver, as in the oil, but when you have a fish on the bone there does not seem to be an awful lot of space left for distinguishable organs.

Anyway F. Marian McNeill?s book was in its ninth edition by the time my copy was printed, 1969. The first edition was in 1946. But I think that even in twenty three years between editions that items like Fish Custard and Nettle Beer were probably already on their way out. (Mind you I was very tempted to knock up some Nettle Beer whilst on sojourn in Scotland recently). The book seems aware of its own position in the pantheon of world food though, often stating the “heartiness” or “warmth” of the food involved. Which is a pity because a good haggis is a joy forever and Dundee Cake is food of the gods (especially if served with a stiff glass of porter). Nevertheless the book sticks to its guns, as is proved by the final recipe in the book. In the beverages section we get this popular Shetland drink:

This popular Shetland beverage is simply the whey of buttermilk left to ferment in an oak cask, and used at the proper stage. To make the whey, pour enough hot water on the buttermilk to make it separate, and drain the whey off the curd(which may be pressed and eaten with cream). Pour the whey into the cask, and leave it undisturbed until it reaches the fermenting, sparkling stages.

It is a delicious and most quenching drink, and sparkles in the glass like champagne. After the sparkle goes off it becomes flat and vinegary, but may be kept at the perfection stage by the regular addition of fresh whey.