Friday, 16 March 2012


As Scotland's cricketers continue their T20 campaign in the UAE, it is time to reflect on one of the glories of Scotland. Time for all Scottish supporters to remind themselves what it is our boys are fighting for. 

Fantasy Bob's worldwide readership are probably of the view that he exists on nothing but biscuits. For biscuits are the only foodstuffs that are ever featured in these postings. Scotland has gifted may important biscuits to the world, none more so than FB's favourite Empire Biscuit. But for once FB looks beyond biscuits for Scotland has also generously gifted to the world its greatest soup.  Cullen Skink.

Home of the Skink?
This soup is a speciality of the North East of Scotland and consists in Finnan haddie, potatoes, onions (or leeks) and milk (or cream). A bay leaf can also be used to help things along. It cannot be bettered.

Historians have long disagreed who precisely this Cullen Skink, the inventor of this dish, was.  Wisden has expunged all record of his contribution to the development of cricket but FB's researches reveal a tragic story.  There was a time when the All England XI could not take the field without its demon bowler Skink.  Many an early batsman would ruefully return to the pavilion having been Skinked by Cullen's pacy underarm thunderbolts.  He invented his soup on an early tour to Scotland when, returning late to his digs from celebrating his success on the field, he randomly mixed together what spare ingredients could be found in the larder. The soup was just reaching its boiling point when the landlady interrupted him.  Initially hostile, on tasting the soup she fell passionately for Cullen.  He reciprocated and they were married shortly thereafter.  The rest is history; he'd skinked his last batsman and Wisden is quiet.  Regretably there was no issue to the marriage for he choked on a fish bone during the wedding reception and died and with it the name Skink.

Other historians are more prosaic and point out that Cullen is a small town on the North East coast at one time a busy fishing port.  Skink is a Scots word for a shin or knuckle of beef which is also used to mean soup. Although no one has ever used it in that sense for anything other than Cullen skink. There is no other skink.

The romantic or the prosaic?  FB leaves his worldwide readership to decide which is more likely.

Finnan Haddie, the essential ingredient of Cullen Skink, is not named in honour of a cricketer.  It is another North East delicacy - a smoked haddock originating either from Findon in Aberdeenshire or Findhorn in Moray. Wars have been only narrowly averted by competing believers in one origin or another.

The Finnan haddie is world renowned, just like Cullen Skink.  It is another thing that our boys are fighting for.  Finnan haddie even features in a celebrated lyric by Cole Porter, My Heart Belongs to Daddy. Here is a link to the most famous version of this fine song by none other than Marylin Monroe from the 1960 film Let's Make Love.

Cole Porter failed to write any songs about Cullen Skink, and FB is aware of only one lyric that concerns cricket.


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