I love haggis.
Yes, I admit it, and I’m not even Scottish. But I only love the real thing, and that is a sheep’s stomach stuffed with sheep offals, onions, oatmal, suet and spices. Well, I’ll make the concession that a plastic wrapper might be an acceptable substitute for the stomach on less formal occasions than Burns Supper, also smaller sausage-like versions are alright. But that’s about all I can concede.
But the traditional haggis is under perpetual threat from many directions. Here is a selection of what people have done to the national dish of Scotland:
1. Messing Around With the Ingredients
This is the most commonly practiced adulteration. I’m afraid to say that it seems like there is actually more faux haggis adorning the shelves of butchers and supermarkets than proper specimens.
I admit that some might feel mildly nauseous when confronted with the truth behind real haggis. But if you can’t take it, you’d better leave it. Please don’t try to substitute the yucky sheep stuff with pork or beef. Have a steak instead, or meat balls, it’s going to taste better. But at the very least, please don’t call it haggis.
2. Vegetarian Haggis
What’s a veggie going to have on Burns Night? Tough question. OK, I see that you don’t want to be left out of the fun. But is faking really the answer? Aren’t there other things that go well with neeps’n tatties and can profit from a good helping of whisky sauce? Be a little creative!
3. Haggis Pizza
Take a pizza Margherita and sprinkle some haggis on top before baking. Gross? You bet! I love pizza almost as much as I love haggis, but the combination of both is just perverted. Sheep lungs with mozzarella di bufalo and extra garlic? Pass the grappa please.
4. Haggis Crisps
British snack producers are probably the most creative of the world when it comes to flavours for crisps. Roastbeef, prawn cocktail, you name it, it’s all been done before. So it was only a matter of time until the Scots favourite staple was to be addressed. Is it good or bad news that the list of ingriedients boasts “natural pork flavouring”? Decide for yourselves. (I would love to try them anyway, but don’t tell anybody…)
5. Haggis Chocolate
Nadia Ellingham from Edinburgh invented this treat. I have to admit that even I as a haggis purist thought this idea had some peculiar charm to it. But I had to find out that only the haggis spices are used. No sheep were hurt during of the production of these chocolates. Skip.
6. Haggis Ice Cream
Morelli’s in Harrods Food Hall is supposed to serve ice cream made with proper haggis ingredients. Call me old-fashioned, but for me haggis is a winter warmer and not a summer freezer. But at least serve it in bowls, please, to allow adding generous measures of whisky sauce.
Now I need a dram.
Haggis image from Wikimedia Commons
Followup: Actually the final kick for publishing this post was the report of Clootie Dumplings being made “fit for the 21st century” that was published on the ScotFest Blog on tuesday. But I have always wanted to write about the assorted haggis weirdness anyway.