Cock-a-leekie Soup; a new book release set in Scotland; and what this has to do with robot food served in Beijing.

Scottish Cockaleeky Soup

With the Beijing Olympics in full throttle, I’ve been more interested in reading about the cooks––ahem, robots––making some of the food rather than in the competitions themselves. Andrew Keh, a sports reporter recently interviewed by the New York Times, spoke of the dumplings and fried rice he was served in the media cafeteria “….I’ve tasted a lot of the robot food and I think humans make food taste better.”

Whew. Until they figure out a way for these “cooks” to have taste buds, we’re good. Many of us, I’m sure, would dislike being upstaged by a robot. There’s so much more to cooking than following even the best of recipes to the letter.

Seriously jet-lagged, our first meal in Beijing

Pity these chef-bots are stealing our aprons, at least in that neck of the woods. Some of my most memorable meals were eaten in China. Thankfully, none of the food we ate–– I hasten to add––was prepared by a robot!

Four years ago, Richard and I travelled through China and into Tibet. We’re grateful that we had the opportunity to explore these fascinating countries before all the weirdness (euphemism of the century) entered the scene.

On your right is a pic of Richard scarfing down food the first night of our arrival in Beijing. The app I used to translate menus was indispensable on that trip. That and my forefinger, which I rudely used to point at other diner’s dishes to place my order.

Xi’an street scene in 2018.

We especially enjoyed the street food. To the left is a pic of the food scene in Xi’an in 2018.

It may as well be a different planet now. In preparation for the Olympics, China implemented its strictest lockdown in Xi’am since the outbreak in Wuhan. A few years back, the crowded streets of Xi’an were overwhelming to us Westerners. And to think that you could hear a pin drop on that same asphalt today blows my mind.

I tried to post a recent pic of a major thoroughfare in Xi’an (empty because of lockdowns) but the image wouldn’t download because of “security issues.”

Oops–perhaps I should slowly back away from my computer, Lol.

So what does this have to do with Cock-a-leekie Soup?

Mel Gibon: BRAVE HEART.

Well, nothing. Only that this divine concoction chock full of chicken and leeks in a silky, flavorful broth wasn’t prepared by a Scottish robot designed to resemble Mel Gibson in a super-sexy plaid kilt. (I may be blogging about that next year.)

It was just me in my pandemic uniform of black leggings and a T, threadbare from daily use, stirring the pot.

My dear friend and fellow writer, Alison Ragsdale, hails from Scotland and I pressed her for details on her memories of this soup.

Me and my Edinburgh pal!

“My gran used to say about her Cock-a-leekie: ‘That’ll put meat on your bones, and hairs on your chest.’ We’d always laugh, but it was the best, most unctuous soup I’ve ever eaten, bar none. Gran was a master at making something tremendously tasty from very simply ingredients. I think that’s the mark of a really good cook.”

At first I thought the addition of chopped prunes was a contemporary aberration but Alison insisted that prunes are absolutely traditional. After tasting the final result, I might add that they were absolutely delicious, adding a welcome sweet flavor.

Alison, BTW, just released her ninth novel, SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD, with Bookoutre last week. A beautiful, tear-jerker of a book that will pull you into the Scottish highlands, her publicist is promoting the Kindle version of this book now for only $.99 until Feb. 12. Then, the digital version will be back to $3.99 ($10.99 for paperback).

All of her novels, for the most part, are set in Scotland and I was THRILLED to see two of her releases on the Amazon Bestseller list this week.

Back to the Cock-a-leekie. I followed this recipe in the New York Times but the link might not work if aren’t a subscriber. Here’s another recipe, curtesy of Martha, I found that’s somewhat similar. Enjoy!

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