Haggis makes people nervous, on the verge of suspicious. But surely a nation of Scotsmen cannot be wrong!
The venerable history of Scotland’s national dish is one of ingenuity and necessity. According to Macsween’s website, a manufacturer of haggis, hunters brought back beasts to store for future times and beasts to eat right away. The beast to eat right away would have its innards chopped up and mixed in with grain and spices and cooked over a fire in the animal’s stomach which is what we now know as haggis.
Haggis features highly at Burns Night suppers, Scotland’s national homage, on January 25th, to their beloved Robert Burns who considered it worthy of a poem:
To A Haggis*
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.
*Excerpted from The Kilmarnock Edition, which was published during Burns’ lifetime.
I had my first haggis at a St. Andrew’s Ball in Seoul, a big to-do sponsored by the St. Andrews Society of Seoul and usually held in some fancy hotel. They also offered traditional Scottish dance lessons prior to the dance so everyone attending could do just that. Dancing or no, it wouldn’t have been a proper Scottish ball without the haggis, for sure!
The US banned haggis in 1989, at the time when Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or what we common folk call “mad cow disease”, a neurological disease inflicting cattle, was spreading through Europe. But this ban was reportedly eased in 2010. Not that I have been keeping track. The haggis that you see in these pics was purchased in Scotland and brought back to us by friends who were there on vacation.
Haggis with its lamby goodness is an easy fit for a Korean table: innards and grain cooked in a lamb’s stomach is a nice complement to rice and kimchi. But kimchi does go with everything…
Hey, maybe if Sawney Bean and his clan would’ve gotten their hands on some haggis they wouldn’t have become raging lunatic cannibals living in a cave. Of course, the veracity of whether the Family Bean even existed has been debated (but not the occasional cannibalism due to famine), purported to be a rumor spread by the English to dehumanize the Scots. For reals.