THEY have sustained generations of fishermen, are the favoured breakfast snack for many Aberdonians and every week they travel the world.

Formore than a century, the rowie, or buttery, has been revered and there has seldom been a word said against it.

Health experts may have raised an eyebrow at the salt and lard content but no-one has ever insulted the bready concoction . . . until Terry Wogan travelled to Aberdeen to broadcast his morning show.

One listener had urged him to discard his "namby-pamby muffins and fairycakes and try something more nourishing".

The opportunity came with a gift of rowies.

As more than eight million listeners tuned in, he opened his programme by telling how he had tried the local delicacy - and swiftly condemned it.

"JG Ross of Inverurie has delivered about 10,000 rowies or butteries and I have tried a rowie, " the presenter exaggerated. "It is like a mouthful of seaweed. It is an acquired taste - maybe with a bit of butter or perhaps even a dash of marmalade."

Wogan later described it as "disgusting" and said there was little chance he would try one again, even though there were several in his gift hamper.

However, the rowie was the only thing which did not charm him about Aberdeen, although he did say he would also be avoiding any mealie jimmies (white pudding).

Wogan may be one of Britain's best-loved broadcasters but he seems to be out of tune with most visitors regarding his dislike of the rowie.

As he made his broadcast, the local delicacies were vanishing from the breakfast tables at the city's five-starMarcliffe Hotel like snow off a dyke.

Stuart Spence, the owner, has welcomed members of the royal family, as well as Baroness Thatcher, Tony Blair, the Sultan of Brunei, Mikhail Gorbachev, and stars from Rod Stewart to Meat Loaf.

He said: "I have never heard a word against the rowie. In fact, Elaine C Smith stayed here last night and I noticed she had one for breakfast.

"We always explain to people like foreign guests that they are our traditional breakfast bread as opposed to toast.

"No-one has ever been rude about them but some are surprised about the saltiness of them. You can taste the saltiness in a good rowie."

Salt is a vital ingredient of the rowie, which owes its existence to the men of the sea. Fed up with hard, dry biscuits on their long trips, fishermen are said to have challenged bakers to create something tasty with a reasonable shelf-life.

They added fat to the dough for their bread to better preserve it, folded it, rolled it, and kneaded it, then cut the product into misshapen mounds.

Thus, the rowie was born.

Cameron Ross, of the baker's who presented Wogan with the 50 rowies, said: "We listen to Terry every morning and thought he would like a buttery, or a rowie or roll as they are known in Aberdeen. I'm sure he would grow to love them if he persevered with them."

He and other bakers have regular orders from Europe and sometimes further afield and Ian Dunlop, the chief executive of VisitScotland for


North-east bakers are unwilling to reveal their exact recipes for rowies because each produces a unique type.

For anyone who wants to try to create the magical flavour at home, here is a recipe from The Scottish Recipe website:


400g/14 oz plain flour

25g/1oz yeast

lukewarm water

115g/4 oz lard

2tsp salt

3tsp sugar


Sift flour into a warmed basin.

Cream sugar and yeast in a cup and mix with a little lukewarm water. Pour on to flour and mix well adding sufficient warm water to form a firm dough. Cover and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Roll out, sprinkle on the salt, then place lard on to the dough in walnut sized pieces and fold as for puff pastry. Roll out (not too thinly), cut into small squares and turn in the corners. Cover and leave to rise for a further 45 minutes.

Put a knob of butter on each rowie and bake for about 20 minutes at 230C/450F/Gas 8 until lightly browned.