Meat, game and poultry
Foreign influence on Scottish cookery was initially at a high social level.
Mary of Guise is credited with introducing it after her marriage to James V in 1537, but in fact it pre-dates her arrival in Scotland.
European, rather than purely French, cookery reached Scotland by two routes well before 1537 — direct from France and indirectly via England.
In 1239 Alexander II married Mary de Courcy of Picardy, and James I [1394-1437] had a French cook. But the Stuart kings, whose dynasty began in 1603, also had links with the English royal family.
New methods of cooking
From the early 18th century, new dishes such as 'chicken fricassee' and 'ragout of veal' appear in manuscript recipe books, as well as in the household records of the Scottish aristocracy.
These dishes, in which pieces of meat were cooked in a sauce, were effectively a more solid form of the ever-popular broth.
As early as 1704 an English visitor to Edinburgh noted with surprise that in the best houses food was cooked in the French style:
'At the best houses here they dress their victuals after the French method, tho’ perhaps not so cleanly and a soop is comonly the first course, and their reckonngs are dear enough.'
— Anonymous, North of England and Scotland. Journal, 1704. [Library reference: MS.2506]
Thomas Houdleston's 'New method of cookery', published in Dumfries around 1760, gives recipes for 'Beef Alamode' and 'Chicken Fricassee' and ragouts, as well as instruction on how to stew beef the French way.
'To stew Beef the French way' from Thomas Houdleston's 'A new method of cookery', Dumfries, 1760. [Library reference: NF.1529.h.12]