Tuesday, 1 December 2009

To Haggis or Not to Haggis

I am what you could call an unfussy eater - I once even carried on eating those wormy Italian cherries, because I figured, oh well the little worms only ate cherry. The other day, though, I saw "Creamed Haggis" on a restaurant menu and thought -rather you than me.

Haggis is more than a dish- it's a right of passage. "Oh, in Scotland... have you had haggis then?" people ask automatically.

But before we go on, let's see what it actually involves, this is an original Scottish recipe:


1 sheep's stomach, cleaned and scalded, soaked overnight, turned inside out
heart and lungs of 1 lamb
450g beef or lamb trimmings, fat and lean
2 onions, chopped
225g oatmeal
1 tbsp salt & ground black pepper
1tsp ground dried coriander
water, enough to cook the haggis
stock from lung and trimmings

Well, what do you think?
Recently, the Lonely Planet Guide called haggis an extreme food together with other
revolting national dishes like worms and tarantula. (quote)

Since I 've lived here, my impression is that very few people actually enjoy haggis. It is much more about 'Are you man enough to try something that most people would find off-putting? Have you got what it takes to be one of us? Or are you the eternal tourist? A weakling, a softie who isn't up to the rough but ever so endearing ways of us here.'

A simple dish has been turned into an ideological milestone - a taboo, that you need to break in order to be accepted.

I think food should be enjoyable. If you like haggis, fine -no problem. If you don't, also fine - but don't turn it into a character judgment!

Have you tried it? Would you?


  1. I haven't - but i'd give it a go Margit !

  2. I adore haggis, absolutely love it. I'm not Scots, went out with a lad who was and we would have haggis every Burns Night. Its spicy and scrummy and oh lord, I love. I think its worth a try because eating it isn't like eating kidney, liver or other offal, the texture is far different....
    That's my two pennorth anyway..... ;)

  3. I have to say that I am truly a lousy eater... There is many a food stuff that my mother and father told me stories about, that have scarred me for life!!!
    I certainly would not tuck into haggis (although I will have plenty of neeps and tatties!!)

  4. There is nothing quite as comforting as a good, large portion of steaming hot haggis with neeps and tatties. Absolutely delicious.

  5. Sounds tasty and nourishing. Yet another dish evolved from famine and poverty, no doubt.
    I've never come across it or I would have tried it.
    If we didn't know what it was, we'd find it delicious.
    Margit, you know my views, but for those who don't, here are some alternatives to haggis: http:bit.ly/62wis8
    What are neeps? Assume tatties are 'taters, potatoes.

  6. Interesting point you've raised Margit - "A simple dish has been turned into an ideological milestone - a taboo, that you need to break in order to be accepted". This reminds me of childhood. I was considered fussy just bec. I didn't eat Goat's Brains & liver curry, a delicacy in my sub-culture. Nor did I eat beef till a much later age when I was more open to it. So yeah...my food prefs branded me as a snooty child. Darn. ;-)

  7. I love your comments! Thank you so much!(Sarah, the things I never knew about you... :) Would love to invite y'all round here and we could have a haggis party, for the ones who don't like it: Tea and cakes! xx

  8. Never tried it but I'm a sucker for faggots and black pudding.......in the gastronomic sense of course :)

  9. some dishes are indeed tightly associated with national identity, eg. fish and chips for the english, haggish for the scots. irn bru might be a drink that also fits this category. taboo, perhaps...not sure that haggis would survive, say, if it was exported to another european country. And i think if one were openly rude about haggis this would be regarded as offensive by the indigenous population. but why? I wonder if the touchiness around such national food and drink icons is somehow related to the psychology of certain nations. Would the french be miffed if say one slagged off snails? Hm. i doubt it.

  10. I love haggis, even though I know what is in it and I don't normally like lamb! So sheep's lungs and heart would not be my choice for a delicious meal. My boyfriend is Scottish and was brought up on haggis suppers, so now I get to indulge my love of haggis more regularly.

    My Scottish rights of passage didn't involve haggis though, but whisky. I drank my first proper scotch in a highland farm house with my best friend's Uncle. I was 23, I chose to try it straight with no water. This made Uncle Jimmy laugh, he expected me to pull a face or be a big wuss about it. I sipped away, loving every drop. He told me I was an honorary Scots woman! I've even introduced my Scottish boyfriend to some fine single malts and converted him to appreciating a fine scotch!

  11. I think I have eaten Haggis and I enjoyed it .. thinking of the ingredients I have to say I didn't know what I was eating at the time .. LOL
    But I suck Prawn and Lobster heads and eat most things so I am probably not the one to ask.. interested to see if you enjoy xx