There are a lot of cultural differences in the world. Some people take salt in their liquorish, some people eat snails, others eat locust, some even mush up midges and make a sort of burger out of them. And the Scottish deep-fry things.
There’s a bit in Cold Granite where the main character – DS Logan McRae, has an argument with a Glaswegian reporter about the relative merits of Aberdonian cuisine. The reporter has a go at the noble Rowie*, and Logan retaliates by saying, "You can talk: your lot invented deep-fried pizza."
I found out – when a friend of a friend, who reads Norwegian got hold of a copy of Kald Granitt – that this exchange ended up being translated as ‘deep-frozen’ pizza, instead of deep-fried. Why? Because Lasse, who is a top notch translator, couldn’t believe we would do anything so bloody stupid as deep-fry a pizza. Not surprising really, if I handn’t seen (and eaten) it myself I wouldn’t have believed it either.
Then this week I was going through some questions from Göran, who’s doing the Swedish translation. Never met the man, but he seems nice – hopefully I’ll get to meet him when the book comes out over there next year. And just on the off chance I thought I’d ask him what he thought of the deep-fried pizza reference… They'd done exactly the same thing - couldn't believe ANYONE would be daft enough to deep-fry a pizza, and had translated it as ‘deep-frozen’ instead.
That’s two for two. So I emailed my Italian editor Raffaello, just to check that they weren’t likewise flabbergasted by the Scottish propensity to chuck just about everything into boiling-hot fat. Not heard back yet, but that may be because we’ve given him a heart attack just thinking about this dreadful violation of his national cuisine.
I got to talking to Agent Phil and the lovely Isabella at Marjacq (she’s the real power behind the throne) and she tells me that there’s a few slight similarities in genuine Italian cooking, but only if you stretch the definition of deep-fried pizza to include things that aren’t actually fully submersed in hot fat. This is, of course a poor substitute for the real thing:
Isabella feels that the folding over makes it a kind of calzone**, only not sealed round the edges, or lovingly baked in an oven. Too true – this is a fourteen inch defrosted pizza chucked in a deep-fat fryer.
Is there any wonder Scotland has the highest incidence of heart disease in Europe?
* For those of you with a baking bent, you can try making your own rowies...
** incidentally, apparently 'Calzone' is the Italian/Florentine for 'pantalone' = trousers. Mmm, trouser pizza… On second thoughts, let’s not go there.