It tastes like nothing else, it looks like nothing else, and it smells like nothing else. It's truly... unique.
A particular speciality in the West of the country, babies are sometimes practically weaned on to the Bru, weepily slurping it from their sippy cups as they recover from the general anaesthetic required to pull their milk teeth out.* S'alright though, they were going to fall out anyway, right?
School kids, who know only too well the importance of keeping hydrated, frequently achieve their daily fluid intake in Irn Bru alone.* High Five! It does make it a wee bit harder to keep the complex orthodontic work clean (adult teeth grow in like a pile of tangled knitting if you've had a full clearance at the age of two) but hey, at least they're not thirsty.
In our late teens and twenties we discover that it makes a great mixer for vodka. And a few wee drinks helps take our minds off the raging toothache.* Thankfully, it's no biggie if the first set of wallies is fitted long before middle age, loads of people have them. Then we can forget all about tooth decay and erosion, supping the "ginger" for the rest of our days, while cursing those mysterious modern plagues of type II diabetes and morbid obesity.
Sadly, for once, I am not exaggerating. It was into this culture that, as an over-sensitive, naive seventeen year old, I started to train as a dental surgeon. I graduated six years later, and nine months after that I quit. It's not that it was a thankless task; after all, people in Scotland really need dentists. It was just incredibly demoralising. I'm in awe of my friends who continue to practice, successfully and sympathetically, a decade later - I was ready to throw myself under a bus by third year.
I couldn't imagine a more disheartening job, and then something made me think again...
I happened to be at my friend Louise's house the day that this month's Random Recipe challenge was set: to cook a recipe from someone else's kitchen. She produced a beautiful book for me called Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry, all about Winter cooking. I came home (after a lovely lunch!) and used a random number generator to pick a recipe. It chose page 16: tartiflette.
For the uninitiated, tartiflette is a dish from the French Alps, comprising sliced boiled potatoes, sauted in butter, with lardons, onion and garlic. Then the whole lot is chucked in an oven dish, covered in creme fraiche and reblochon, and baked. Butter, bacon, cream, cheese and carb-loading, what's not to like?
My primary reaction was "this is bloody delicious!"
My secondary reaction was "it could've been worse, I could've wasted my youth training to be an Alpine cardiologist."
But then the French have their pesky paradox. Lucky blighters. If only the Scots had one of those, maybe I'd be driving round in a sports car like all my old classmates...
|I couldn't get reblochon, so I used a good stinky brie, for which all
people will now demand immediate beheading by guillotine, apparently.
|The addition of some French beans, to stick with the Gallic theme, and |
because I didn't want my arteries to clog before the kids went to bed.
Louise also cooked a recipe from my cook book shelf this month, and sticking with the seasonal theme, she chose something from the January section of Tessa Kiros' lovely book, Twelve. Head over to Please Do Not Feed the Animals at the end of the month to see how she got on. And to read all the other randomness, please visit Belleau Kitchen - Dom does a brilliant round up every month without fail, and the list of dishes submitted is always mouthwateringly inspirational.
* Just to be clear, I'm sure the manufacturers of Irn Bru are perfectly honourable and wouldn't condone using their product in any of these ways, but I can assure you, it happens.