Politicians and their plates: Neil Findlay's classic breakfast
Lothians MSP Neil Findlay loves a classic Scottish breakfast with his family
Politicians and their plates: Neil Findlay
Describe your favourite plate of food.
I love cooking – it was my favourite subject at school and I passed my O-level with flying colours. In my third year of school, my mum went mad at me because I got ‘Ds’ and ‘Es’ for absolutely everything except a double ‘A’ for cooking. I went on to do my City and Guilds at college and worked in a smart hotel for a while before getting sick of the terrible wages and shifts. I left to become a bricklayer (no difference) and often cooked at home when we were rained off and home early.
My favourite plate of food is a top notch Scottish cooked breakfast – fresh eggs, bacon, sausage (link and sliced), tattie scones, haggis and/or black pudding, with lashings of tea and bread and butter.
Why is it so special?
It is an absolute classic and reminds me of staying at my granny’s when I was wee . The smell of bacon and toast wafting through from the kitchen stirs the memories. My granny would be arrested today for her generous use of lard and butter!
Who have you shared this dish with and what was the occasion?
On the rare occasion when I have a Saturday or Sunday morning free, I have a breakfast like this with family – it is a treat. Especially on Christmas morning with my wife, Fiona, daughter, Chloe, mum, brother, John, and his wife, Sharon. We have breakfast together in the morning because we all often have to go elsewhere for family and extended family Christmas dinners.
I like most food and am not a picky eater, but firmly believe you have to eat what you like. I cannae be bothered with the ‘food police’ who say this doesn’t go with that or you can’t drink red wine cold or other such snooty guff. It’s all bollocks – you should eat what you enjoy, and if that is a kipper and mars bar salad with mash then so be it, get stuck in.
More generally, what is your most memorable meal and why?
I have had many memorable meals and not all for the right reasons. I once went fishing with my pals and after a few days in the middle of nowhere with no transport we were running out of food (not many fish caught) and my pal Tam heated a tin of macaroni cheese and cracked in six eggs – instant macaroni custard – it was boggin’!
Have you had any culinary disasters?
Numerous! Baking is a science whereas cooking is art. So weighing and precision and strictly following a recipes are not really my bag. I like to go by sight and taste rather than grams and instructions.
A white chocolate and mint concoction springs to mind as probably one of the worst – it involved eggs, chocolate and fresh mint – let me just say mint-flavoured scrambled eggs is not something I would recommend!
What would be your last meal of choice?
A curry with family and friends at the Ashmaan in Linlithgow Bridge – Chicken Punjabi Special, pilau rice, Kashmiri naan and a few beers – delicious!
What’s your comfort food?
I have many. A piece on crisps would be up there – a Scottish classic – toasted cheese (none of this cheese on toast rubbish), a roll on sliced sausage and tomato sauce and a bowl of Heinz tomato soup (other tomato soups are available but none as good).
Is there a plate of food you’d never eat?
My father-in-law lives in France and my wife and I visited him two years ago in Montpellier. We went to a local restaurant and ordered the regional speciality – it turned out to be rolls of tripe stuffed with shredded meat from a sheep’s foot (aye, foot!). I will have a go at anything, but this was minging beyond belief. It looked great but tasted awful.
Favourite thing on the Scottish Parliament menu?
I think the parliament canteen is great and the staff who work there are fantastic. They do some great soups and salads, but I love their mac and cheese, steak pie, and of course, their breakfasts, especially the porridge. The members’ restaurant is nice for a wee treat for my mum.
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