Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shortbread in December



When one of food's key senses (scent) is restricted by packaging, brand and label are the visual imprints you do not forget when you find a food you love. Food marketers know it. Even the humble Scottish ones like the folks at Shortbread House of Edinburgh. On these terms, I was recently transported back 17 years instantly and to the very month. Through the cellophane I beheld the best shortbread I could find during my 4 months abroad in 1991 at the University of Stirling in Scotland.

Perhaps I've found a new twist on the time machine concept, courtesy of my taste buds. It would indeed be entertaining for some sort of spin off on Dr. Who to come along that instead focused on food. It could be a food history program, an opportunity for an avant garde, ecletic chef to rise up, in pure entertainment and education as a program host. What a fabulous way to help us reconnect to the sources of our food- through history and education about how people used to survive before the mass production we are entrenched in now was pervasive.

17 years ago, I was finishing my finals at this very time of year. I never imagined I'd be here on the west coast with circumstances of my life the way they are 20 years later. It was the last two weeks of a semester abroad - challenging because as an American, it was hard to connect with people the entire time I was there. But the land and the country had open arms.

I will never forget the beauty and the mystery of the campus and the country. I travelled almost every weekend while there and found solace in the remote, mystical and ancient qualities of the country. Like many parts of Italy, it is a living tribute to how places untouched never change over the centuries. That is something we should treasure about any place in the world that is left untouched for long periods of time.

Though their Web site doesn't specify, perhaps the recipe they use is also something that has been untouched for a very long time- still relevant, still crumbly and delicious, still touching people around the world in its unchanging tradition after over a decade and a half.

The monument to William Wallace is shrouded in mist at the top left of the badly re-photographed photo above.

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