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Reviews / Book review: Passionate about Shetland food

Marian Armitage during the book signing on Friday night - Photos: Elizabeth Atia

ON FRIDAY night during a small, intimate party at the Loch Bar in the Clickimin Centre, friends and family joined native Shetlander Marian Armitage to celebrate the launch of her new cookery book: Shetland Food and Cooking.

Guests were treated to wine and Shetland canapés – mackerel pate on Unst oceanic oatcakes and salt beef on bannocks – and were entertained with a delightful musical performance by Marian’s sister, Wilma, playing the fiddle. A selection of historical food-related photographs was on display.

Marian’s book is the culmination of several years’ research and a 35 year career teaching domestic science.

Inspired by her mother, a traditional Lerwick housewife, and by her domestic science teacher at the Anderson Institute where she was educated, Marian knew by the age of 12 that she wanted to be a cookery teacher.

She has turned this love of food, her Shetland history and her passion for Shetland produce into a book celebrating the wonderful food that is caught, reared and grown here.

The cookery book is divided into five sections, covering fish, meat, fruit & vegetables, dairy and home baking. Each section includes stories of the people and organisations involved in Shetland food production both past and present.

There are traditional Shetland recipes such as bannocks, sassermeat clatch, taatie soup with reestit mutton, sheeps puddeens and a wealth of seafood recipes, but also more contemporary recipes such as Armenian lamb, bobotie and ceviche.

Written in the first person Marian’s recipes are accompanied by light-hearted personal anecdotes and full colour photographs, most taken herself in her own Shetland kitchen.

Marian is passionate about Shetland and Shetland food. She believes the food is the best you will find anywhere.

“This book is for anyone who is interested in food and cooking. I earnestly hope that as you enjoy trying some of the recipes you will be as impressed as I am by the quality and flavours of good Shetland food,” she said.

It’s the sort of book you will want to sit and read, cover to cover, before you begin cooking.

Retailing at £20 this soft back book is printed and published by The Shetland Times.

Copies will be available to buy at the Shetland Food Fair running this weekend in the multi-use room at the Clickimin Centre in Lerwick.

Elizabeth Atia