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Deep fried mars bars! What do they tell us about Glasgow?
September 7, 2012 6:34 AM   Subscribe

So the infamous deep fried mars bar has reignited debates about Glasgow as the unhealthiest city in the UK. The Economist has also weighed in with their view on life expectancy in Glasgow, touching on the city's industrial history. The issue of Glasgow as the unhealthiest and most dangerous city seems to be at odds with Glasgow as a friendly city, and despite continued efforts to improve its reputation, Glasgow still seems to be afflicted by negative evaluations.
posted by Scottie_Bob (51 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
This American remains unfazed by the tales and proclamations of woe over the idea of a sweet being deep fried.


...


Rookies.
posted by Atreides at 6:37 AM on September 7, 2012


I went to Scotland and ate a deep-fried Mars bar and haggis, the two things I really wanted to try. The deep-fried Mars bar was a cheap gimmick, but the haggis was sublime. Actually, the best thing I ate there was a fried egg with brown sauce on it. Why don't we have brown sauce in America?
posted by escabeche at 6:42 AM on September 7, 2012


If they're good enough for New York City, they're good enough for the world.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:42 AM on September 7, 2012




I'd just like to point out that the DFMB is a Stonehaven thing; it was first made in The Carron Fish Bar. And Atreides, whatever gross injustices your state may have done to pizza, even you wouldn't deep fry it in batter ...

There are 11 and 12 year old kids in the poorer parts of Glasgow who have never had fruit, and have to be shown that you have to peel a banana before eating it.
posted by scruss at 6:44 AM on September 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


The American South has a reputation for hospitality, but that hasn't stopped it from being violent and unhealthy. Maybe people are just friendlier when they feel like death is (relatively) more imminent. Or maybe its the sweet sweet dopamine hit from all that delicious fried food.
posted by Panjandrum at 6:46 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I spent a few days in Glasgow a few years ago. I thought it was terrific. Great art scene. Decent food. Cool music venues. The cabbies seemed quite friendly, though I couldn't understand a word they said. Would visit again. A++
posted by j03 at 6:53 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I once went into a chippy in Aberdeen, after a trip back home to Edinburgh. I was homesick and skint, so I asked for a deep-fried pizza supper, a delicacy of my home town. The man behind the bar looked me straight in the eye and said:

"Ye cannae hae that son, tha's unhealthy. Hae a pie."
posted by Happy Dave at 7:01 AM on September 7, 2012 [21 favorites]


j03: My Glasgow cabbie was a lovely, warm, very talkative gentleman who took great delight in testing me on the pronounciation of "Sauchiehall Street" (I rather mangled it the first time).

As to the rest of it, I didn't see much in the way of deep fried novelty items beyond the unremarkable, but I do realize that wandering around central Glasgow and staying with theatre brat friends attending the RSAMD is not all that likely to give me a typical view of working class Glaswegian diets and lifestyles.
posted by whittaker at 7:02 AM on September 7, 2012


I have a Glaswegian friend who claims the city is perfectly safe, as long as you do not try to engage drunks with knives in conversation. Apparently there is a great surplus of these, but engagement is usually voluntary (at first).
posted by ubiquity at 7:03 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I live in Glasgow and I am yet to find anywhere that sells those mythical deep-fried mars bars (outside tourist areas, that is - and even so they are pretty damn rare). I would say that I have a 50-something colleague who asked me for advice on how to boil a potato, but she's an outlier in more ways than one.

Glasgow is a lovely, vibrant, warm city filled with arty people, a great music scene, and has a fab DIY spirit. American friends visiting us said that it reminded them of Williamsburg, NYC mixed with San Francisco - I've been to neither of those places, but that comparison may convey a bit of the vibe?

For what it's worth, I have only felt unsafe once and that was when I wore a bright green coat in a Rangers supporting neighbourhood. I talked myself way out of that one by laying on a strong Danish accent and talking a lot about Brian Laudrup (who is a Danish footballer that used to play for Rangers). Sectarianism is the dark side of Glaswegian life.
posted by kariebookish at 7:33 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


They've had deep fried candy bars (on a stick, of course) at the Minnesota State Fair for years.

I had one once, it was gross and I think it only survives as a novelty since the fair is a once a year event. I don't know if anyone ever actually likes them enough to have more than one in a lifetime let alone a year.
posted by VTX at 7:47 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had a deep-fried Mars bar.
Once.
Never again.
And my veins run orange with Irn Bru.

Brown sauce? How can ye not have it in tha colonies? Y'can make a perfectly good variant if'n ya have no import shop, laddie. Hell, a bottle lasts me two years or more. But I make me'own.
posted by Mezentian at 7:48 AM on September 7, 2012


Brown sauce? How can ye not have it in tha colonies?

Um... We do have it in North America. Even the one with your Houses of Parliament on the bottle. It's called steak sauce. It's for steak. You'll find it in any grocery store between the ketchup and the barbecue sauce.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:14 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


God damnit now I want a bright orange curry and an incomprehensible conversation.
posted by The Whelk at 8:17 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, that's okay.
I loves me some HP on my bacon and eggs.

I may visit your colonies as soon there is no groping of my crown jewels.
posted by Mezentian at 8:18 AM on September 7, 2012


The Whelk: "God damnit now I want a bright orange curry and an incomprehensible conversation."

Let me pour a mixture of ketchup and crushed cheetos over some chicken nuggets. Then I shall tell you about my last D&D campaign.
posted by boo_radley at 8:20 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, do you need a new player?
I have dice!
posted by Mezentian at 8:21 AM on September 7, 2012


Sys Rq: "Brown sauce? How can ye not have it in tha colonies?

Um... We do have it in North America. Even the one with your Houses of Parliament on the bottle. It's called steak sauce. It's for steak. You'll find it in any grocery store between the ketchup and the barbecue sauce.
"

Ah, but you're all benighted souls indeed for not living in an EH postcode and having access to the glory that is chippy sauce (aka 'salt and sauce').

It's such a bone of contention between West and East that Scotrail used it to advertise the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail service a few years back.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:22 AM on September 7, 2012


Ah, but you're all benighted souls indeed for not living in an EH postcode and having access to the glory that is chippy sauce (aka 'salt and sauce').

I see you that and raise you yellow sauce.
posted by Mezentian at 8:24 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


What the hell is yellow sauce?
posted by Happy Dave at 8:27 AM on September 7, 2012


The last time I was in Glasgow I went wandering down a subterranean shopping district and ended up with a live Golden Eagle perched on my arm. Best city ever.
posted by The otter lady at 8:30 AM on September 7, 2012


Yellow sauce is also known as Chip Shop Curry Sauce.
posted by Mezentian at 8:34 AM on September 7, 2012


Sorry, link fail.
Chip Shop Curry Sauce.
posted by Mezentian at 8:35 AM on September 7, 2012


Mezentian: "Sorry, link fail.
Chip Shop Curry Sauce.
"

Wow.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:57 AM on September 7, 2012


I've made a variant (no apple, using Chinese/Malay curry powder) and it's pretty awesome.
posted by Mezentian at 9:03 AM on September 7, 2012


This past weekend, I was at a fair and I ate a funnel cake with ice-cream, chocolate and caramel syrup, and bacon. I'm not saying that it was a good idea (it wasn't, it made me feel a little ill), but it was there and, therefore, it had to be tried.

At one point, I'm going to eat a deep fried Mars Bar for about the same reason, though I'm thinking that it might be better.
posted by jb at 9:27 AM on September 7, 2012


Glasgow gave us mogwai so I will forgive it deep frying food and smothering stuff in weirdly glowing sauces. That funnel cake thing sounds way more scary than the marsbar!
posted by pymsical at 10:01 AM on September 7, 2012


A DFMB can be sublime. Ecstasy-inducing. Something about the nature of the specific nougat used in the Mars bar works unbelievably well melted. Everyone should try at least one. Best enjoyed on a plate, served with whipped cream or Guinness ice cream.

Just saying it because no one else has yet.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:12 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aye, but they have the best fookin' accent!
posted by symbioid at 10:17 AM on September 7, 2012


FYI - Mars Bars in the UK = Milky Way bars in the US
Milky Way bars in the UK = 3 Musketeers in the US

That said, I had a deep fried Mars Bar while I was in Edinburgh. I expected to hate it but I loved it. It tasted a lot like my favorite European street food - a Nutella pancake.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:32 AM on September 7, 2012


I was introduced to the White Pudding Supper one Hogmanay by my Scottish partner, who insisted that I try it. I am the quintessential omnivore, certainly have no objection to fried foods, and am particularly fond of black pudding, so this promised to be interesting.

What I got was, as far as I can tell, oatmeal in lard, fried in lard, then battered and fried in more lard, served with lard-fried chips. It tasted of nothing except lard, and the general sensation was of trying to eat somewhat gritty, warm... lard.

Despite considerable hunger, I gave up after two bites. It was not edible - in fact, I'm not sure it would qualify as organic or capable of sustaining life if Curiosity encountered it.

(Salt and sauce, however... the chippy three doors up from my partner's flat - which locals have claimed is the finest for miles - knows full well how addictive that is. And now, so do I. I am lost. Even they don't stoop to this...)
posted by Devonian at 11:11 AM on September 7, 2012


I just came here to say "Glaswegian". And now I have.
posted by scalefree at 11:56 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Um... We do have it in North America. Even the one with your Houses of Parliament on the bottle. It's called steak sauce. It's for steak. You'll find it in any grocery store between the ketchup and the barbecue sauce.

STEAK SAUCE AND BROWN SAUCE ARE NOT THE SAME SAUCE.

Well, OK, they sort of are, kind of, but A1 Steak Sauce (North America) is nothing like the heaven that is HP Sauce (British Isles). And for what it's worth, you can buy it in North America if you have an import shop, but I think even some of the big grocery stores have it (I live in California and seem to remember buying my last bottle at Albertsons).

On an unrelated note, the deep fried candy bars I have eaten in the British Isles were of an entirely different character than those encountered at U.S. county fairs. The former are dipped in a crunchy beer batter and often topped with a bit of ice cream and are delightful, if obviously a "sometimes food." The latter are dipped in a chewy dough before being fried and have a similar texture to a corn dog; these are not so good.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:11 PM on September 7, 2012


I chuckled when I learned that a side of chips (i.e. fries) with any meal is referred to as a "Glasgow Salad".
posted by rocket88 at 12:32 PM on September 7, 2012


STEAK SAUCE AND BROWN SAUCE ARE NOT THE SAME SAUCE.

I have a bottle of HP -- albeit a Canadian one -- in my fridge. The label reads:

HP
Sauce
Original
Steak Sauce & Baste for Meat


You may not consider it a steak sauce, but the people who make it seem to. It's no more different from A1 than Hunt's catsup is from Heinz ketchup.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:03 PM on September 7, 2012


It's no more different from A1 than Hunt's catsup is from Heinz ketchup.

I haven't had the Canadian variant, but British HP Sauce is much thicker and lighter in color than A1. They both have a vinegar tang and similar ingredients, but they definitely don't taste the same.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:12 PM on September 7, 2012


Rick Dagless weighs in.
posted by chaff at 1:14 PM on September 7, 2012


Yeah, HP sauce in Canada and brown sauce in the UK are similar, but a bit different. I find brown sauce a bit sweeter, whereas the Canadian HP sauce is a bit spicier, tangier, more vinegary.
posted by LN at 1:53 PM on September 7, 2012


HP sauce -- which I ate today for lunch on an egg, inspired by this thread -- is not the same as A1 sauce. If you don't believe me, believe Chowhound.
posted by escabeche at 3:10 PM on September 7, 2012


When I was 18 I had a deep fried mars bar and loved it. You can only eat one though.
posted by Enki at 5:22 PM on September 7, 2012


Man, this thread makes me want to cook a couple of stonners but I can't even imagine where a civilian could get some doner kebab meat.

And then what would I do with the bucket sized chunk of reconstituted meat without a rotisserie?
posted by porpoise at 8:13 PM on September 7, 2012


Deep fried Mars bar. Deep fried Mars bar. Deeeeeeep fried Maaaaaars bar. What a wonder.

I just had to bask in the caloric wonder of it. Ooh, with ice cream? That has stout in it? Don't mind if I do. And unfortunately, many cities are friendly and notoriously unsafe, like Kuala Lumpur.

Ha, and the first thing I think of when I see 'Scotland' and 'unhealthy' together is invariably John Rebus.
posted by undue influence at 8:53 PM on September 7, 2012


I can't see the word "Hogmanay" without hearing Craig Ferguson's description of this holiday.
posted by stannate at 11:00 PM on September 7, 2012


I live in Edinburgh, though am English. The "Glasgow is dangerous" link came from The Sun, a publication which bears the same relationship to journalism and the truth as a DFMB bears to haute cuisine. DFMBs exist and can be found, but only because tourists have heard of them and so ask. Salt and sauce, BTW, is inexpressibly vile, if you don't like chips then don't eat them, there is no need to sprinkle paint stripper on them (as I said, English).

Glasgow, and indeed much of Scotland exemplifies a Jekyll/Hyde duality. Like anywhere, parts of Scotland, and much of Glasgow are very deprived and very, very dangerous. Other parts are amazingly beautiful, and parts very civilized, visitors have to exercise common sense. The nastiness is mostly limited to closed circles, by and large if you don't go looking for it you won't find it. Unfortunately looking for it can include drinking in the town center in the evening or when football matches are on.

Casual visitors have no need to visit the housing estates which surround the city, if they do they will find themselves in a different world, not a nice one. Guess where they house asylum seekers?
posted by epo at 12:59 AM on September 8, 2012


I think we need to have a Toronto meetup at St. Andrews Fish and Chips where I can introduce y'all to a proper fish supper. Yes, they make DFMB, and with the right (imported) ingredients.
posted by scruss at 8:27 AM on September 8, 2012


I had a battered Mars bar for the first time only recently. My local chip shop does them, so when my friends came over for a gaming session the other week we thought that we get some and see what the fuss was about. I don't know whether it was the way that it was cooked, but the batter seemed to form a kind of skin around it rather than being crunchy like I'd expected. Also the sweetness of the chocolate and the saltiness of the batter ended up cancelling each other out, so the taste ended up being really vague and indefinable. Eating the thing felt like a chore after the first couple of bites, so we all gave up. I'm wondering if deep-fried pizza is better, but I have no idea if there's a place near me that does them :-(
posted by Lucien Dark at 6:25 PM on September 8, 2012


Deep fried pizza is like the biggest, crunchiest mozerlla stick you've ever had, think deep fried calzone and you're nearly there.
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 PM on September 8, 2012


I just realised I could, if I so dared, get myself a deep-fried Mars bar for $3 even here in Singapore, thanks to novelty 'chip shop' franchises. That said, this post made me hunker down and crunch the numbers for my fantasy, long-dreamed-of trip to Scotland and Ireland, because darn it, I want to be there, and the warts of safety are, well, signs of a normal city populated by human beings, like it or not.
posted by undue influence at 6:32 AM on September 9, 2012


I'm a Canadian living in Glasgow. When I told English friends that I was moving to Glasgow, most seemed legitimately worried for me. This is probably a bit silly - my income hasn't decreased by moving to Scotland and my diet hasn't really changed. I've encountered a few brawls, some on canal paths during the day, some on street corners at night, but I've not felt unsafe myself. Since I'm a female uninterested in football or fighting they never seemed to even notice me.

Some friends and I were talking about the safety issue last Friday, and it came up that there might be completely different kinds of safety: the sort of neighbourhood where you might end up in a fight if you're a young man isn't necessarily the same as the sort of neighbourhood where a woman might be worried about assault. On top of this, the type of violence that you could get caught up in if you're from a lower-income area of Glasgow seems very unlikely to affect recent arrivals who aren't low-income. That's all conjecture though, and I'd love to see any research on it anyone's seen.

I've lived in Partick and now near Charing Cross, and neither seem particularly scary to me. On the other hand, last week I was walking up to Ibrox station at night after rugby and I was a bit intimidated.

I've spent a bit of time in Shettleston, which wikipedia (citing a 2004 Guardian article) claims is the only place in the UK where life expectancy is falling. The life expectancy difference between the west and the east ends of the city is sad. I assume (because it's reported with such alarm) that this sort of difference is unusual.
posted by magicicada at 6:24 AM on September 10, 2012


When I was 18 I had a deep fried mars bar and loved it. You can only eat one though.

I can only eat one mars bar unfried - and that was true even when I was a student and a mars bar was the only thing I'd have for dinner. Not all chocolate/candy bars are like that, just Mars (which is why it was my emergency food of choice).

Some friends and I were talking about the safety issue last Friday, and it came up that there might be completely different kinds of safety: the sort of neighbourhood where you might end up in a fight if you're a young man isn't necessarily the same as the sort of neighbourhood where a woman might be worried about assault. On top of this, the type of violence that you could get caught up in if you're from a lower-income area of Glasgow seems very unlikely to affect recent arrivals who aren't low-income. That's all conjecture though, and I'd love to see any research on it anyone's seen.

I don't have any research on this, sorry, but anecdotally I can say that this is my experience. Lots of neighbourhoods are "dangerous" if you belong to the wrong gang or get between a drug dealer and their customer, but are perfectly safe if you're not involved. The building I grew up in was like that - lots of drugs, some gangs, the occasional shooting (we would have had more if we'd been in the US) - but not dangerous on a day-to-day level for children or women. Also, lots of lower-income places also have many eyes-on-the-street, which can make them a little safer for women walking about.

the most dangerous places for women walking alone are generally those with very few people around and poor visibility - dark suburban streets, industrial areas, etc. My old university campus in the suburbs was terrible in this way - whereas another university which abuts some pretty drug-soaked areas is considered to be much safer.
posted by jb at 9:06 AM on September 10, 2012


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