I have been out all day with my brother, buying things. On Broughton Street, on Leith Walk, on the North Bridge, on Nicholson Street, on whatever Nicholson Street turns into.
When we returned with all our packages, ready for a good rest and a drink, my mother asked if we had gone to the Christmas Market, and I realized--with great joy--that we had skirted Princes Street (Edinburgh's main street) altogether. This explains why we had such an uncrowded and relatively stress-free time of it. We didn't get cross until we discovered how comparatively hard it is to find maraschino cherries. (Tip: Tesco, among the olives.)
Here are all the things we bought today:
Shop 1: Real Foods
For Christmas Eve kompot:
For Christmas Eve kutia:
For immediate snacking:
small package of Balti mix
bottle of wine
Shop 2: Polish grocery
Old Krupnik liqueur (at last!)
Dried Polish forest mushrooms (for Christmas Eve barszcz)
Shop Three: The Yellow Bench Restaurant
Three potato pancakes with sour cream
Shop 4: Valvona & Crolla
One marron glacé (to be shared between us)
Shop 5: [Secret!]
Shop 6: Brew Lab
2 long black coffees with milk on the side
1 almond croissant
(We ate the marron glacé, too.)
Shop 7: Holland & Barrett
Wheat germ (for cookies)
Vegetarian soup cubes (for Christmas Eve barszcz)
Shop 8: Bona Deli
Cherry compote (in case we never found maraschino cherries)
Many Other Shops.
Shop 9: Tesco
Dark soy sauce
Three jars of maraschino cherries.
Victory was ours re: the maraschino cherries, and we went home to the Historical House on the infamous Rough Bus.
The cherry compote purchase was very funny and also in part because I didn't want to disappoint or scandalize the sales clerk, who didn't seem to speak English.
Me: Przepraszam!? I am looking for cherries in syrup,
Pani: Ser? (She rushes to the cheese section.)
Me (alarmed): Ale nie. Szukam czereśnie z syropy.
I have no idea if that is grammatically exact, but understanding dawns in the eyes of the shop assistant.
Pani: Ah, tak. (She rushes to the canned fruit section and triumphantly bears aloft a huge bottle of bleached-looking cherries bobbing around like eyeballs in a jar of blood.)
Me: Ooooo. (I take the bottle with a lying Anglo-Saxon smile.) Dziękuję bardzo!
After such fulsome thanks, I had to buy the cherries, you understand. However I am sure I will find something to make with them. At worst, I will pour them over chocolate cake.
Update: The mental health professionals among you may be wondering why I am making Polish dishes for Christmas Eve when no Polish guests will be partaking. The answer is because I like Polish Christmas Eve dishes, and I have always wanted a proper Christmas Eve supper tradition, like those of French Canada. Sadly there seem to be no ready-made British-Canadian Christmas Eve traditions, unless we count hunting for the Scotch (cello-) tape.