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Once you get a whiff of smokies being smoked, they are hard to resist. (Photo: Helen Ross,
Once you get a whiff of smokies being smoked, they are hard to resist. (Photo: Helen Ross,

Diary: Thank God smokies are still allowed in Scotland

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If you like fish, and you like it smoked, there are these things unique to Scotland called smokies that are hands down the best-tasting fish you've ever put in your mouth. Then when you're done, munch on a few "digestives" to make your meal complete.

By Mark Spoor, Coordinating Producer

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- While sitting around our house watching Dodgeball last night (who knew the Brits were so wild about Ben Stiller?), the six of us that make up the Internet team here at Carnoustie were thinking about all the little things we came across that haven't quite made it into one of these diaries yet.

In between laughs at the television screen, there was a lot of "you should have written about this" and "you should have written about that."

So now I will.

All week long, I had heard about how I had to go to the "smokies" tent outside the media center and pick up a smokie. After I told someone that I wasn't a fan of those annoying mini sausages, they set me straight. A "smokie" is actually smoked haddock presented in quite the unusual way.

Prepare for the cooking portion of this article. If you're like me, and your idea of cooking is making toast, feel free to disregard the next couple of paragraphs.

Anyway, the fish are salted overnight; they are then tied in pairs and left another night to dry. Once the Smokies have been tied and dried, they are hung over a triangular shaped piece of wood. The wood is then used to hang the dried fish in a special barrel within which is a hardwood fire.

When the fish are hung over the fire, the top of the barrel is then covered and sealed with wet jute sacks -- the water prevents the sacks from catching fire. What it creates is a humid, smoky fire without flames. The thick smoke it creates is crucial if fish are to be cooked, not burned, and to have the strong smoky taste that has made them famous -- particularly among pudgy members of the worldwide media. After about an hour of smoking, the fish are ready to eat.

All I know is that they're really good. I shouldn't have waited so long. Quick, someone in Atlanta with some spare cash please open a smokies restaurant, preferably somewhere near the Turner offices.

While we're on the subject of food, we were in the local grocery store the first day we were here and fellow writer T.J. Auclair grabs a package from the shelf and says to me, "Oh, man. These things are great. We have to get these."

I look at the package and it says simply, "milk chocolate digestives."

I'm thinking to myself that my pal T.J. likes the taste of Ex-Lax a bit too much when I realize that they're really just shortbread cookies half-covered in chocolate -- and they're insanely good.

Still, like the true idiots we are, our entire group has spent the rest of the week saying the word "digestives" as much as humanly possible.

Man, I'm really hungry. I could really go for a few digestives.

This is good, but it's no digestive.

Good times, indeed.

Street signs are also a bit of an adventure here. We've seen one all week that is simply an exclamation point with the words "Red Squirrels" underneath it, as if to say if you're not extremely careful, you may be overrun by red squirrels and end up feeling like you were just in a Hitchcock movie.

Through six days, we've seen not a single red squirrel. Talk about disappointment.

The best, however, was a speed limit sign that T.J. caught sight of just as we were leaving the course on Monday. It said simply, "Twenty's Plenty."

Imagine if you were bopping down the interstate and you saw a sign that said "Sixt-Five's Plenty." Oddly, you'd keep a closer eye on your speedometer, that's what you'd do.

More than anything though, we've all been floored by the absolute kindness of the Scottish people. If you haven't been here, think of that one friend you have that will go up to a total stranger and talk to them like they've known them for 30 years.

Now picture an entire country of those people.

That whole concept is even more amazing when you consider that most days, they wake up to dreary skies and their summer consists of days when the temperature climbs to a balmy 55 degrees -- and it rains.

Thanks for everything, Scotland. We'll never forget it.

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