About Bothies & Bannocks
Unless you’re familiar with Scots language, you’re probably wondering where the name Bothies & Bannocks comes from. Let me explain. In the North East of Scotland, a ‘bothy’ refers to a farm or estate outbuilding with very basic amenities. Generations of farm labourers passed down traditional folk songs known as bothy ballads from the mid-1800s. Sharing tales of hard agricultural work and rural life was a popular way to wind down after an honest day’s graft working the land.
Nowadays, people mostly use ‘bothy’ when talking about the isolated farm buildings found up in the mountains or deep in the glens. Unlocked and available for anyone to shelter from the elements, bothies offer hill walkers, mountain bikers and ski tourers a place to stop for a snack, a warm drink or even somewhere to put their head down for the night.
And what better way to enjoy a ‘fly cup’ than with a tasty bannock. There are almost as many different bannocks as there are regions in Scotland. In Aberdeenshire a bannock is a hearty pancake usually served with butter and jam, whereas in Angus it refers to an oatcake, and in the Borders it’s more like a fruit loaf.
And as the saying goes “Grinny maks the best bannocks”, meaning everyone in the North East is convinced that their Granny makes the best pancakes! Have a look at our blog post titled “Bannock Recipe” to see my Bannock recipe, one which has been with me since a child!
So what’s that got to do with food and drink tours?
Well nothing really! They are just great Scottish words with slightly different uses in different parts of the country. To me a bannock reminds me of homely hearty North Eastern food and bothies represent adventure. Hence the tagline Taste Adventure.
Both bothies and bannocks are a great talking point, when on tour with guests I love finding out what they associate with these two words.
I am yet to discover the perfect bothy to host a bannock tasting or even a bannock competition in, but watch this space! Who wouldn’t want the title of The Bothy Bannock Champion!!
Growing up in rural Aberdeenshire, my Mother and Granny introduced me to quality traditional North Eastern cooking. Originally from Aberdeen but now residing as teuchters (country folk), both Mum and Granny were members of the Lumphanan SWRI (Scottish Women’s Rural Institute) where the best traditional recipes have been passed down for generations. The recipes all originate from working farms and crofts. There’s nothing fancy about these recipies, just hearty food made with good seasonal produce.
The food I grew up eating was typical of the area and still is, as a family we always bought our food locally, based on seasonality. We still get our Christmas turkey from a farm down the road. A tradition that’s lasted more than 30 years. As children, we were never starved of a ‘fancy piece’ with both Mum and Granny’s award-winning rock cakes, bannocks, scones, traybakes and cakes all on regular rotation. The homemade jams and preserves added to these were made from wild rasps from the woods, strawberries from the garden or whatever happened to be thriving that year.
While still at school I spent a lot of time on our neighbour’s farm. I always thought I was helping but looking back I was probably more of a nuisance! I developed a keen interest in farms, but I could see it was a hard-earned keep. So, when I was old enough (around 12 or 13 years old) I started working evenings and weekends in the local hotel kitchen. I soon learned that it wasn’t such an easy option, but I loved the buzz of the kitchen. So when I left school, I trained as a Chef before studying events and hospitality management at college in Glasgow.
After 4 years living in the city I started to miss the Aberdeenshire countryside and lifestyle, so I returned home. On my return, I rediscovered my love for the area and the huge amount of quality local produce.
Looking back on my upbringing, career choices and the amazing area I call home, it’s no wonder I am so passionate about food and tourism in the area. That’s why I’ve started Bothies & Bannocks, to share and promote the area and its proud hard-working people’s top-quality produce.