Use your loaf

Yes, it’s the (one-off) return of the much-loved (well, some folks did love it!) Scots word of the day!

My one-time daily Facebook education of Sassenachs in the vocabulary of the Scots tailed off way back in 2011, but I’ve been prompted to revive it for a bread special.

And that’s because it ties in rather neatly with the new blog launched by my better half, Kitchen Faff.

Debbie is a foodie to her fingertips and this house is positively groaning under the weight of her many cookbooks, all of which she reads as if they’re novels. Not for her simply flicking through the index to find a recipe. No, she pores over them lovingly and devours their contents as if their pages are a seven-course tasting menu prepared by a two Michelin-starred chef.

Anyway, one of her current faves is the not-so-succinctly titled From Petticoat Tails to Arbroath Smokies Traditional Foods of Scotland.

And lo and behold, here on P145 is a superb explanation of one of the funniest and most pertinent Scots phrases ever – pan loaf.Scan 1_Fotor

Yes, that expression so beloved of characters in The Broons when discussing a neighbour with ideas above her station.

The explanation comes as part of a more lengthy discussion of plain and pan bread, those two very distinct Scottish loaves that are fixed in the minds and memories of every Scot (we brought four plain loaves back from Scotland after New Year and delivered one precious loaf to a Scots friend whose joy and gratitude was a sight to behold).

For those who have never tasted plain bread, you really don’t know what you’re missing. When completely fresh, nothing beats it for a sandwich, the dark crust the – ahem – piece” de resistance. And when it’s a couple of days old, it makes the best toast ever, particularly for toasted cheese.

Pan bread – well, it’s all a bit meh. Limp, pale crusts. Soft white dough that isn’t robust enough to hold a decent sandwich filling.

And that’s probably why it’s just a great way to describe someone who thinks they’re too good for a piece made with plain bread.

I’m away to make some toast.

© From Petticoat Tails to Arbroath Smokies Traditional Foods of Scotland, by Laura Mason & Catherine Brown, published by Harper Books, 2007

*A piece is Scots (particularly in the west) vernacular for a sandwich. “A piece at any door” describes someone with charm. Maybe the Scots word of the day hasn’t had its day after all.

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