Aberdeen Butteries, Grampian
The legend goes that the Aberdeen buttery (or butterie, spellings vary), locally better-known as a Rowie, was developed to provide fishermen sailing from that port with a roll that would not go stale during a fortnight or more at sea. The secret was the generous use of fat – strangely given the name not butter but originally dripping, these days often lard or vegetable fats – which also provided them with a distinctive flavour, and made them doubly useful for the sea-goers in that they were an instant source of energy.
Traditionally the Rowie (sometimes identified as simply ‘a roll’ in Aberdeen) is of a rounded and rather flat shape, a good handful of a snack, though other forms have been popularised over the years. A pair of yeasted doughs are used in making them, one rather dry, the other very fatty, the two combining in what is akin to flaky pastry, the fat dough acting like butter in that delicacy.
Butteries are sold all over Scotland now, but Aberdonians would insist theirs are still the best to be found, a handy rushed breakfast for the modern office-worker as they once were for the deck-hand, though their consumption is by no means limited to early mornings.
Because of the flaky-pastry link some liken the Rowie to a croissant, but the flavours are very different. At the risk of offending the French (ok, we’ll take it), the Rowie is more complex, the best of the breed offering a salty, savoury flavour that naturally owes much to the fat used. The Rowie too is more satisfying and filling, and probably not dipped in coffee that often in pavement cafes while changing the face of Western thought.
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