To celebrate the first birthday of Tom's Food! next month I asked some food celebrities for contributions. The Scotsman newspaper has greatly expanded its food and drink section over the past few years. My only criticism of this is that for some odd reason, all the writers are female. The finest of these is Cat Thomson. She writes for their food and drink website https://foodanddrink.scotsman.com/ and writes Scotland's Larder which appears in The Scotsman every Wednesday. She also reviews restaurants for Scotland on Sunday. It is a great privilege to have Cat write an article for us.

Recently I was excited to learn about a research project called Food Heritage Scotland.

The project aims to create a virtual vault of Scotland’s food and drink stories to help tell the whole story of a nation, through food both past and present. People are being asked to share personal and family anecdotes via an online survey. The research is  funded by the Connect Local Regional Food Fund, in connection with Scotland Food & Drink.

The idea of gathering this research is to provide authentic food and drink heritage to make it easier for tourism businesses and destinations to capitalise and promote authentic Scottish food to potential visitors.

They are asking people to raid the dark recesses of their memories, and share precious family recipes or recommendations of local produce and suppliers via an online food survey https://www.foodheritagescotland.com/

The project is being led by marketing consultant Lorna Young, a specialist in food and rural tourism, and by Dr Valentina Bold, a leading expert in Scotland’s cultural heritage.

Lorna commented:

“At this time of year in particular so many of us draw on family traditions and recipes, to mark seasonal celebrations and to share familiar flavours with loved ones.  So, as people reach for family recipe books or prepare festive treats this Christmas, we’re hoping that they snap a quick photo and upload it to share it as part of this research.  These glimpses into our personal food traditions and experiences are part of Scotland’s shared food heritage, and making those food and drink stories more visible and more accessible is what this project is all about.

“We want to gather Scotland’s food and drink heritage for two reasons.  First of all, we recognise that food tourism is a very important market for Scotland and identifying food tourism growth opportunities will help businesses and communities recover from the impact of Covid and lockdown.  Secondly, we would like to see food and drink represented in the Year of Scotland’s Stories 2022 celebrations, so this survey is an important first step in gathering a very authentic repository of information to help inform this.”

Dr Valentina Bold said:

“Scotland has many rich food heritage resources in manuscript and printed form – from the handwritten receipt books of the past and present, to the cookery books our well-known chefs produce. Online archives from the National Library of Scotland and the Tobar an Dualchas, are great resources for exploring food heritage too.

“What we want to do now is to fill the gaps with contemporary knowledge of what is so special about Scottish food. We want to understand the varieties of food we cook at home, what we eat when we go out, what food means to us everyday, and on special occasions, in our modern and diverse Scotland. We want to be able to tell Scots at home and visitors to Scotland about our rich traditions – of eating, and also of producing food and drink here.  I am very excited to have these conversations with Scots of long and new standing, and to take this opportunity to understand what food heritage Scotland means today.“

The survey can be found at www.foodheritagescotland.com and is open till the end of January 2021. Survey responses will be used to inform a report and set of recommendations for the development of Scotland’s food heritage over the next three years.

I would urge everyone to take part in the survey. For them to get the best from your responses, you are encouraged to contribute some favourite recipes and photos as well as food memories. You have 10 days. What's holding you back?

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