Scotch eggs and the benefits of trying something different

Have you ever seen a Scotch egg? Well, I hadn't until fairly recently. And have you ever eaten one? I have. Sort of by accident.

I was running some errands up in Barrington and stopped at a local Irish pub, McGonigal's, for a little lunch. Sounds like a name straight out of a Harry Potter movie. Professor McGonagall is one of the wizard professors who became the headmaster after Professor Dumbledore. It's a local place right downtown. Big menu. Turned out to be home-cooked food. I've been back since. All the food is excellent.

When bereaved or living alone, or both, one needs to learn how to entertain yourself. I'm pretty good at it, but we all need something different from time to time. Something different is a good diversion. In this case, I enjoyed not just the food but the whole atmosphere and clientele of McGonigal's. It was early so not many were there, only a couple people when I arrived, which was shortly after opening time at 11 a.m. Early is ideal for these COVID-cautious times. More came in later.

So in looking over all the offerings on the extensive menu, I saw Scotch eggs. What is that? I ordered them.

While waiting, I was struck by the number of single people coming in, sitting alone and reading newspapers, some chatting with an acquaintance at another table. In for an early lunch. Not crowded. No loud music. TV on mute, subtitles. Just a peaceful and welcoming local hangout. Parking easy and free. The pub is on a corner in an stately old building. It has a big U-shaped, old-fashioned bar with stools, lots of tables high and low for small groups or singles.

The Scotch eggs came and were very interesting, pretty and tasty. It's a hard boiled egg wrapped in a mild sausage cover then fried. Single egg totally encased in the sausage, forming a "sausage shell." Two of them, egg-shaped. Served with what was called "anchovy slaw." Also very mild. Sounds odd but was so good. Never eaten that before, either.

I've been to Scotland, once. Spent a week in Edinburgh. Didn't see any Scotch eggs but we did stay in a beautiful historic hotel right downtown at the foot of an old castle. We did see a magnificent performance of "The Military Tattoo," with the many bagpiper regiments marching and swaying through the castle arena. Beautiful sight. Moving. Seared in my memory. I love bagpipes.

It was interesting to see more people drift into McGonigal's - more singletons, small family groups, some couples. But what interested me most were those singletons who had come in, shortly before or after I did, for an early lunch. Not just to eat, but to eat in the company of other "locals." Basically, they probably wanted a connection with others - not just stay at home and eat alone. A nice daily ritual.

I liked my Scotch eggs so much I ordered a takeout order of them for my friend Mona and dropped them off to her on the way home. I thought she'd like to try them. She lives just down the road from me. They crisp up easily in the oven. She did like them.

The point is: Trying something different is a good idea. It wakens up the senses. It doesn't have to be food. It can be anything that may interest you. And it's a good idea for singletons to seek company. It could be lunch in the local pub or cafe, or meeting a neighbor, could be the church, could be the fitness center, or another place. People do indeed need people.

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at or see her blog See previous columns at

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