Edinburgh: eating and exhausted

by Jeff Oaks

1. I have now tried haggis, black sausage, and crannachan. 

2. Of course I was so exhausted that I forgot to bring my camera, so there are no photos. You’ll have to take my word for it.

3. The feared haggis came to me as deep fried, with a honey and chili sauce, and it was good. Now, I can drop another fear. 

4. We ate at the Royal MacGregor in Old Town, which is the oldest part of the city, cobbled streets, bagpipes, cashmere and tartan stores everywhere.

5. The black sausage came with the pork and it was good, too, darkly rich with the taste of liver maybe. 

6. Both haggis and the sausage are the result of grinding lesser loved meats with grains like oatmeal and spices. It was crumbly, I’d say, rather than muscly, not for me a dish on its own but it added an interesting layer of texture to the pork.

7. I was so tired I forgot my camera. Around me, the students were taking pictures they were posting to their friends. The whole dinner was a present our guides Rebecca and Rachel, who moved our time-stunned bodies and minds through the first difficult day.

8. To say I felt like ground meat mixed with oatmeal would not be a lie. 

9. How many days had I been awake, I kept wondering? I’d woke up on one continent at eight am, gotten on an airplane at 5 pm, watched two movies in the cramped dark of a United Airlines cabin–Jupiter Ascending and Guardians of the Galaxy–, eaten dinner ther, fallen asleep maybe for an hour until one of my fellow passengers opened up his window shade in what should have been my deep night. Huge sunlight surged into the space. My brain twitched back on and has stayed on for good until about 9:30 tonight, when I slept. Two hours later I woke up, read the Internet, and decided I’d better write about the day or days I’ve traveled through. 

10. Tomorrow we begin teaching. I was luckily awake enough to snap two photos of the view out the windows of our classroom at Edinburgh Napier University. 


11. The landscape around us is beautiful. The city is old, stone, and green. The streets wind like intestines. I want less to teach than to set the students loose and tell them to come back with stories, images, mysteries, words we can write about. My class’s project is going to be to start an Edinburgh Dictionary of sorts.
12. The weather was blustery but warm, the sunshine steady and strong. We walked and walked from the really beautiful student housing to the classrooms, to the apartment where Mark and I unpacked at last. My feet hurt. I stunk with the nervous and excited perspiration of how many days of travel?

13. Just before dinner tonight, I ran into a Superdrug drugstore for razors and deodorant and toothpaste and completely forgot to buy shampoo. I half expected to speak another language for all the miles I travelled, but no, the cashier was perfectly understandable. She took the money I gave her. She gave me change back, which I threw into my pocket to look at later like mysterious stones plucked out of a stream. 

14. I forgot to mention the crannachan, which was dessert. Raspberries, whipped cream, oatmeal, honey, whisky, what’s not to like? I needed up eating two because one of the students was as excited by it as I was and gave me his. Here’s a recipe: crannachan. This time I didn’t get the Sticky Toffee Pudding, but next time I definitely will.

15. Tomorrow I intend to take more photos. It’s just that I hardly know what to look at next. I’m still trying to remember to look right for traffic.