Monday, 26 January 2009

Gie her a Haggis!


For my last meal in Scotland (yes, the is officially my first post from home: California), we celebrated Burns night a little bit early. January 25th, the birthday of Robert Burns, is huge in Scotland. The kilts come out the closet, the whiskey is uncorked, and haggis abounds. Yes, it may sound disgusting. Anything that involves heart or lung or intestinal parts would usually put me off, and believe me, this did at first. But I'm beginning get used to the idea of a once yearly sampling, and when taken in small amounts, haggis is really quite appealing. 

Served with tempering neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes), the spices added to the haggis create a lovely, savory dish, kind of like uncased sausages. When eating it, I've found it's generally best not to think exactly about what you are eating. It's just spicy ground meat, and washed down with some whiskey (I prefer Glenrothes), it goes down quite well.

I've found that to be really and truly Scottish, you have to love haggis. It's an institution, akin to snails in France or pork cracklin's in the South. And once they discover that you're a foreigner, they love to talk to you about it. Everyone from pub friends to taxi drivers seemed to find haggis a favorite topic, asking, always with a snigger, whether I had tried it, and whether I knew what was in it. 

It's not available in the states, something about it not being up to code... However, there are excellent vegetarian versions available, like the one here.

Although an adventure, and not something to be missed if anyone ever offers you a taste, I think I will be fine until Burns night next year. And in the meantime, the whiskey won't have to wait.

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