National Library of Scotland’s touring display

Food and drink in Scotland for 400 years

Lifting the lid will teach you about Scottish food and drink history.

The travelling exhibit explores the stories and customs related to the Scottish diet while celebrating Scotland’s evolving relationship with food and drink.

The Scottish diet – Sick Man of Europe

Fish, game, cereals, and fruit abound in Scotland’s diversified and rich natural larder. However, Scots were derided for their diet and called the “sick man of Europe.”

The rural poor were described as being “remarkably healthy” before the industrial period thanks to their thrifty yet nutritious diet. For the majority, eating meat was a rare treat, and dessert was unheard of. But those who could afford it ate a lot of meat and drank a lot of sugar, which is now thought to be unhealthy.

Public Exhibition

The “Lifting the Lid: 400 Years of Food and Drink in Scotland” exhibition uses a range of resources to tell the tale of Scotland’s food and drink, including a substantial collection of manuscripts, books, household accounts, tradesmen’s bills, and recipe books. It also includes both amateur and official films.

exhibition display with display cases, cupboard, papers and vegetables sign in view