"Seafood Journey: Tastes and Tales From Scotland" by Ghillie Basan is an inspirational book for anyone with a love for Scotland and for food: which probably includes a large proportion of those reading a book review on Undiscovered Scotland. The production values are great and the book looks and feels fantastic. And when you open the front cover and begin to browse, you find the contents fully live up to the promise of the packaging. This is a book you should definitely buy for the cook in your life: whether that's a partner or yourself.
You get a good sense of the contents from the publisher's description: "Scotland has some of the best seafood in the world, so we why don’t we eat more of it? Why don’t we highlight the bounty of our seas and the people who fish, produce, sell, preserve and cook it? Acclaimed cooker writer Ghillie Basan embarks on a journey around Scotland’s coastline and over to the islands to capture the essence of our nation’s seafood through the stories of fisherman, farmers, artisan smokers and curers, boat builders and net makers, creels and shacks, skin tanners and age-old traditions. In addition, she offers 90 original recipes showcasing the wonderful produce she encounters on her journeys to all parts of the country."
The book kicks off with the author's acknowledgements, which include the story of how the idea originated. There's then a nice foreword by renowned Scottish chef Gary Maclean and ain introduction by the author, which includes the tale of her parent's disastrous honeymoon camping on the island of Tanera Mor. Then we get into the real substance of the book which is divided into six geographical chapters: West Coast; Skye, Lewis and Harris; North-west and north-east Coasts; Orkney and Shetland; Moray Coast; and East Coast. Each is a fascinating melange of articles about food producers or gatherers, whether of fish, sea salt, scallops, mussels, and more; interspersed with recipes for dishes prepared with ingredients local to the area being covered. What is fascinating is the picture that emerges of the elements that combine to define common Scottish themes that cut across different areas: while also highlighting regional variations between different parts of Scotland. Add in plenty of nice colour photographs of those involved or of the places where they live and work and the end result is the rather splendid book we've already described.