Think Scotland’s All About Deep Fried Mars Bars And Irn Bru? Meet The Girl Whose Documentary Proves Otherwise

Charlet Duboc introduces us to Scottish cuisine via a lobster called Kendrick...


by Jess Commons |
Published on

Charlet Duboc, a presenter and documentary maker, describes herself as 'one of those Londoners who's never ventured up to Scotland.' And, while we ourselves have been North of the border and liked it muchly, we are terribly sorry Scottish Debriefers but in the same way you guys have never come down South to queue up for 45 minutes to eat an overpriced burger, we didn't ever go for the cuisine.

Now, Charlet's gone and made a five-part documenatry for VICE's online food channel MUNCHIES called *MUNCHIES Guide To Scotland*which sees the former model eat and drink her way around the country all in the name of journalism. Which is super work if you can get it. From Irn Bru pulled pork to freshly caught lobster, to roe deer to Arbroath smokies, Charlet dedicated herself to finding the weirdest and best food our neighbours to the north have got to offer.

We caught up with Charlet to see what she found out...

So haggis – still definitely not a whimsical American stereotype then?

I can’t speak for everyone – some people throw it (there's a sport called haggis hurling in the Highland Games)! I’m not mad on haggis so see nothing wrong in chucking it about. But most of the people I met in Scotland have a soft spot for it. The traditional way it's served is 'haggis neeps and tatties' which is haggis, swede/turnip and potato. It’s very beige, but there are foodie attempts to experiment with how haggis is consumed and add it to gourmet 'fusion' dishes.

There were a lot of people you met banging on about something called 'skirlie' too. What's that?

It's a traditional Scottish dish… or more of a side dish. Also known as white pudding, I'd say its most similar to stuffing, or maybe sort of like a savoury porridge. But I think the definition of skirlie varies depending on who's describing it, I am a ghastly English infidel after all.

Some lady even mentioned some dumplings made in a granny's knickers. Erm, what?

That would be a clootie dumpling. There are no hard and fast rules about them needing to be made with anyone’s knickers (let alone your granny's!) but the idea is that it needs to be steamed in a bit of cloth. It’s basically a bit like a Christmas pudding.

You met a bonkers man in Glasgow who describes himself as 'the mad chef.' He looked like a big of a liability, if i'm honest...

When I think about Danny, I think of his catchphrases: 'TOPS OFF!' and 'I LOVE YOUSE GUYS!' with a twinkle in his eye. He's the most loveable rogue I ever did meet. He's like a really approachable, fun Heston Blumenthal, with a straightforward approach to experimental food. I tried his Irn Bru pulled pork and Buckfast ice cream which, let’s face it, both sound revolting, but were bloody genius. He would make a killing if he set up shop in London.

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What is the obsession with irn bru about?

Irn Bru is the only soft drink that outsells Coca Cola in Scotland. I think it’s so loved because it’s Scottish, and it’s earned a reputation for being a brilliant hangover cure. I've heard people say Scotland’s workforce would grind to a halt without it. I’ve never been into soft drinks, but I'm a sucker for Irn Bru in glass bottles, Irn Bru ice lollies, and of course Danny the Mad Chef’s Irn Bru pulled pork.

You met some lads who are really into their Buckfast. To me, it remains a bad choice at one particularly messy teenage house party, but to them, it seemed like a way of life...

Buckfast is a tonic wine that seems to have struck a chord with the Glaswegian youth in particular. It’s brewed by monks in Devon but I've honestly never seen it drunk south of the border. To me, it’s just a sort of cross between port and Vimto, but in the Scottish media it’s been linked to violent crime and general youth degeneracy. It’s cheap and it gets you really drunk really quickly. Isn't that what we all wanted when we were teenagers? Let’s not pretend that we are any more sensible down South!

True that. What's a 'munchy box'?

A munchy box, sometimes called a 'greasy box,' is a late-night, Scottish fast-food phenomenon. Whereas you might be more familiar with the idea of reaching for a McDonalds or a kebab after a night out, in Scotland they take it up a notch. It’s a pizza box filled with pretty much everything you might want after a night of boozing: chips ('Glasgow salad') kebab meat, naan bread, pakora, onion rings… I think that’s it. Deep-fried beige stuff.

Delightful. I want in. What did you learn about whiskey?

The isle of Islay has the most whisky distilleries on it out of all the Hebrides. The distillery I went to – Bruichladdich (pronounced “brook-laddy”) is known for producing a cult whisky called the Octomore, which is the peatiest whisky in the world!

Tell me about some of the game you got to eat

Scotland is brimming with the best seafood and game. I tried venison carpaccio for the first time in my life and hopefully not the last – it’s a very rare delicacy and the supplier does not make a habit of shipping to London! I had no idea about the health benefits of venison – its so lean and low in cholesterol. It’s like the perfect meat.

What was the best thing you ate?

It would be a toss up between the fresh lobster I caught or scallops from the green Seafood Hut in Oban – relatively affordable seafood, fresh from the sea, from the same island I live on. Unbelievable scallops and lobster are some of my favourite foods but a real luxury that I rarely get to indulge in! But on the flipside, the macaroni and cheese pie I had in Aberdeen won't be easily forgotten. Yum.

Anything you'll be bringing back to London with you?

I brought back a bottle of Port Charlotte Whisky from the Bruichladdich distillery, but that didn’t last long. Haha!

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Follow Charlet on Twitter @Strictlsimilak, find the rest of the MUNCHIES Guide To Scotland here

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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