"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Paleo at Penn... in Edinburgh!

As some of you may know, I am currently studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. The city is so beautiful and rich in history and culture-- my flat is located thirty seconds from the National Museum of Scotland, two minutes away from the cafe where Harry Potter was written, and the Edinburgh Castle is also just a short journey away! Besides the experience of living in a new city and country, I've also been having new food experiences as well: grocery shopping and cooking for myself. While it would certainly be easier to buy a loaf of bread and live on sandwiches for the semester, I am sticking true to Paleo and learning how to make it work here-- I'm glad this "Tips and Tricks from Top Paleo Chefs" post just came out!

Grocery stores (at least the ones I've been to) here are much smaller than the ones I'm used to in the US (now I totally understand the term "supermarket"), and finding spices and seasonings has been quite a challenge! So I've started shopping at a Middle Eastern market, where I've not only found spices from all over the world, but also ghee, coconut oil, coconut flakes, and many other Paleo foods that are hard to find in the chain grocery stores. However, I'm very impressed that almost all of the eggs I've found here are free-range-- I just need to get used to looking for them in center aisles, rather than in the refrigerated periphery (this is the only time I'll break Michael Pollan's food rule).

Something that really amazes me about Edinburgh is the amount of American fast food chains that are on almost every corner. Subway, KFC, Papa John's, Domino's Pizza, and Pizza Hut are everywhere, and there are two McDonald's not too far from here as well (TGI Friday's and Burger King also made their way to Edinburgh... and, of course, you can find a Starbucks every few blocks too). I remember when Subway passed McDonald's as the world's largest restaurant chain in 2011, but I didn't really believe it since there are definitely more McDonald's than Subways where I'm from... but now I see Subway's world domination first-hand! (Check out this list of top 10 largest fast food chains-- many of the ones I mentioned are on it.) There's another chain here, Baguette Express, which seems to be a Subway competitor and is also everywhere; another popular one is Gregg's, which reminds me of Au Bon Pain. In summary, there's a gluten-fest everywhere you look. (Let me also mention that Scotland is the home of deep-fred Mars bars and deep-fried pizza.)


Based on what I've seen of Scotland thus far, it is really no surprise at all that the UK consistently ranks among the world's fattest countries-- this article says it's the fattest in Europe and fifth in the world (with Scotland's childhood obesity problem second only to that of the US); this BBC article says that UK women are the fattest in Europe, and this one discusses the UK's general unhealthiness; the 2010 Scottish Health Survey states that 65.1% of adults (16 and over) were considered overweight or obese; and this article states that Scotland is the second-most obese region in the UK. (Of course, these are based on BMI, but they still give some indication of the problem.) Considering Subway, Domino's, and other carb-heavy sandwich and pizza chains are on every corner, it's no wonder this is happening!

I'm really enjoying my time in Edinburgh, and I'm also loving all of the cooking I've been doing. I realized just how it easy it is to sauté some type of protein on the stove, then serve with vegetables. Below is yesterday's lunch: an Italian-inspired turkey dish in a chunky tomato sauce and served over baby spinach. Nom!

I hope to tackle some traditional Scottish recipes over the next few months and try to make them Paleo/Primal. I have a few in the works, so I'll be posting them here when they're done!

And here's just a pretty picture I took on a trip to St. Andrews last weekend:

Quote of the Day:
"Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, 'I am of no value,' is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought-- so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master." -The Dalai Lama

9 comments:

  1. I love Edinburgh!!I'm looking forward to seeing the recipes you come up with. Haggis could pretty easily become paleo--just leave out the oatmeal. It's more of a special occasion thing, but still, using all of the animal is something we don't do very often nowadays...Have fun, Scotland is awesome!

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  2. Thanks-- I'm really enjoying the city! I'm definitely going to try a Paleo haggis at some point... though I must say I'm not the biggest fan of organ meats. :)

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  3. I was lucky to travel throughout Scotland back in the mid eighties. Edinburgh during christmas and especially new years is awesome. I can still remember the bag pipes playing as we walked around the castle on new years eve.
    Enjoy and take lots of pictures, i certainly wish I had.

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  4. The center of Edinburgh is a great place to find interesting foods, much more so than most other parts of Scotland. I have spent four years there at Edinburgh University, until last summer, living not far from where you are. There are some much larger supermarkets around but you have to travel further out of the city center. I am living in Aberdeen now.

    There are certainly a huge amount of places to buy fast food around that part of Edinburgh :) Scotland is one of the most unhealthy places in the world.

    You should defiantly try some good haggis while you are there, it tastes far better than it sounds. There is a butcher in Portobello that sells gluten-free haggis.

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  5. Going to Scotland from US in September. Dreading the food issue as a devout Paleo eater for 2 1/2 years. I can pick and choose well enough but it's the hidden gluten and bad oils you can detect. Staying in B & Bs which is even more difficult. Interesting that Scotland is a "fat" country. Look at what is going in your mouth, people! We have really done a job on ourselves foo dwise!

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