By Anna Roth
What: Banger and mash, and a beef Cornish pasty
Where: Scottish Highland Games, Enumclaw
What Does $13 Get You? A plate of mashed potatoes, banger and onions ($8); Cornish pasty filled with beef and onions ($5). In a fit of nostalgia, I bought an IRN-BRU ($2.50) with my pocket change.
Recommended? Not exactly.
Official Tasting Notes: I once spent a year getting drunk, er, studying abroad in Edinburgh, so I’m a lass who knows a thing or two about artery-clogging cuisine. I was excited about revisiting it, but when I arrived at the Highland Games around 5 p.m. on my way back from Mount Rainier, it was too late for haggis. Which was ok. While haggis isn’t as bad as heavily spiced sheep innards could be, I can’t say it’s my favorite thing in the world. But I was super-disappointed when I found out the sausage rolls (breakfast-type sausage baked in puff pastry) were gone too. I had to settle for lesser Scottish delights.
As far as bangers and mash go, this one was fine. The banger was neither exceptional nor terrible; I have very little to do with this particular sausage these days, so I’m maybe not the most discriminating diner.
The pasty, however, was miserable. The inside was disgustingly dry from sitting under heat lamps all day, and the crust was hard and glutinous (my tardiness was maybe to blame, but I don’t think so). A good Cornish pasty is a thing of beauty--in the worst months of Edinburgh winter, when it’s cold and dark and the wind whistles through the narrow stone alleys, a meat pie is the only thing that can get you through the long walk home. If I’d eaten this particular specimen back then, I might have given up and lay down in the street.
I washed it all down with my IRN-BRU, which forms an unholy triumvirate with ale and whiskey as the official beverages of Scotland. It’s battery-acid orange soda that tastes exactly like the bubble gum that used to come in packages of Topps baseball cards, circa 1988.
The crowd was rapidly getting drunk and unruly. There were bagpipes. There were big, burly men with red hair wearing kilts and sporrans. It was an okay time, but it made me feel a little empty, and miss the real Scotland all the much more.