Quelling hangovers and heartbreaks for hundreds of years, mac and cheese is a staple of Scottish comfort food. The subtle blend of velvety cheese sauce and crispy breadcrumbs is enough to appease even the most ferocious of appetites.
But the addition of macaroni and cheese to Scotland’s culinary tradition often raises eyebrows, especially when it’s placed amongst the countless deep-fried delicacies. The history behind Scotland’s love of this dish varies depending on the teller, just like the recipe itself.
However, the link between Italian immigration to Scotland is a popular origin story for the meal.
Italians first began making homes in Scotland in the 1880s.
By 1914 there were almost 4,500 native Italians living here. From then on, Italian workers influenced Scottish culture by finding jobs in local shops and cafes.
Like most fledgling movements, it was the working classes that embraced this merge of cultures. For the first time the working people of Scottish cities were being introduced to fish suppers, ice cream shops and, of course, macaroni and cheese.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though.
Italian people living in Scotland faced huge levels of xenophobic hate. In 1940, when Mussolini declared war on Britain, Italian families were targeted with many facing deportation or imprisonment.
It takes a lot of courage to proudly share your culture in the face of such blatant discrimination. But Italians living in Scotland at the time were up to the challenge and their influence is still felt in the 21st century. Today there are between 70,000 and 100,000 Italian Scots living in Scotland who continue to enrich our cultural scene.
But whether it be baked into pies, deep fried, or eaten as it comes – it is the humble mac and cheese that has endured above all else and will survive for years to come.
Feature Image Credit: Ronmar Lacamiento on Pexels
Film and Tv Editor at Brig Newspaper. Currently studying Journalism and English at the University of Stirling
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