Being a Dutch person living in Scotland, studying Italian, I frequently find myself defending any one of these three countries if they’re being slagged off by inhabitants from the other two. I’m afraid I’m gonna have to put it out there: Italy is the most frequent offender in this, Scotland the most frequent victim.
To Italians, apparently, Scotland seems like some god-awful penal colony. When I tell people I live here, they ask me what I’ve done to get kicked out of the Netherlands, as if Scotland were the Siberia of the EU. “But… is cold there, no? Always raining… How can you live there, you always have to stay in the house!”
But what they don’t know, is that Scottish houses are nice, and comfy, and homely. I find Italian houses void of cosiness and atmosphere, which is fine, because in Italy you can just go outside all the time and your house doesn’t need to be such a nice place. So you put tiles on the floor instead of carpet, and you don’t invest in much central heating, and you get green metal shutters instead of curtains, because that’s just more convenient in a warmer climate. In Italy, those things are fine.
However, in Scotland, staying in has been made an art by centuries of necessity. If the weather is crap half the year, and you’re forced to stay in, you make sure that in becomes nice. So you get carpet and pretty curtains and atmospheric lamps and central heating, and you buy a kettle and you drink lots of hot tea. Scottish houses are welcoming and warm and they give you a pleasant sense of security in winter. They’re not like Italian houses in design, but they’re exactly the same in that they have been designed to suit a certain type of weather. And admittedly, being comfortable inside is not quite as good as always being outside, I’ll admit that. But it’s certainly not bad.
To make your house that wee bit nicer on a rainy autumn day, make the following hot cinnamony apple drink. It’ll give your kitchen an ever better smell than a freshly baked apple pie, I swear. And then you can drink it and it’ll be lovely, and you won’t feel quite so bad about the rain outside.
For a litre of hot cinnamony apple drink, you will need:
- a litre of apple juice
- 300 ml of water
- one stick of cinnamon
- a few cardamom pods (I used 5)
- some cloves (I used 8)
- a couple of tbsp of sugar
- 4 shot glasses of rum (optional, but definitely recommended)
Chuck all of the ingredients bar the rum in a pan. Stick on the fire and heat up, but don’t let it boil. It seems odd to add in water, but do it anyway: the drink needs to simmer for a while to soak up all the flavours, so a lot of it will evaporate. If you don’t add water, not only will you end up with less juice, but it’ll also become quite sour and syrupy. That’s also the reason you’ll want to add some sugar.
Leave it to simmer for at least half an hour, never letting it boil. Once you think the flavour is the way you want it, add in the rum. I use four shot glasses for a litre of juice, but of course you can add more, or less, or leave it out completely.