Arbroath is also home to one of the world’s famous gastronomic
delights - “The Smokie”. For the uninitiated, however, it
is little more than a humble smoked haddock!
The old method of preparing The Smokie.
Note the woman with her “cuttie” or clay pipe
The fish are first gutted, deheaded and cleaned; then
salted and dried overnight. Tied in pairs at the
tail, the fish are suspended on a pole, and smoked over
a covered fire (preferably using oak or beech chippings)
for anything between 45-90 minutes.
Traditionally a barrel, sunk into the ground or
pit, was used to smoke the fish. Nowadays the "pit"
is constructed of brick, 6ft (2m) square and 3ft (1m) high,
and is normally in an outhouse in the backyard of one of
the houses at the "Fit o' the Toon".
Even though Smokies are delicious to eat when cold, one
of the best ways of preparing this mouth-watering delicacy
is to place it in a pan of boiling water, then, once piping
hot, quickly remove the skin, and the flesh from the bones
if required, season to taste, and serve on hot buttered
toast or brown bread!
A typical smoke-house of today in Arbroath
However, the real home of the Smokie is not Arbroath,
but Auchmithie, a small village perched on a clifftop
a few miles north of town.
Scott in “The Antiquary” gave Auchmithie the quaint name
of Musselcrag! At the beginning of the 19th century the
fisherfolk (with interesting surnames such as Swankie,
Spink and Cargill) migrated into Arbroath,
where they still continue the Smokie tradition to this day.
"The Declaration of Independence", of
course, signed at Arbroath in 1320!