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Haggis: Scotland’s national dish

Vegetarian options are available, but a real Scottish haggis consists of a mixture of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, onions, oatmeal, suet and spices, encased in the stomach of the animal.

Sounds like something from a horror film doesn’t it? But, haggis is considered by many to be a very tasty dish, and that’s not just the Scots. It’s so revered in Scotland that it was even the subject of a 1787 poem, Address to a Haggis by national poet Robert Burns.

Traditionally, the haggis comes alongside ‘neeps and tatties’ which are mashed turnips and potatoes served separately, and not forgetting a wee dram, a small glass of Scotch whiskey, as part of a Burns Supper.

Where is it from?

There isn’t actually much evidence to say that haggis actually originated in Scotland. Local folklore, however, tells a different story.

One story goes that during the days of the old cattle drovers, women had to prepare their husbands a meal with what few rations they had. The mix was put into a sheep’s stomach for ease of transportation when the men made the long journey to the markets in Edinburgh from the Highlands.

Another story, that’s quite clearly fictional, is that the haggis is an animal that runs around the Highlands with one pair of legs shorter than the other pair. Trust the Americans to believe this story. An old Guardian report states that in a poll, 33 % of American visitors believed that the haggis was indeed an animal, with 23% even saying that they thought they could catch one on their visit to Scotland.

Haggis today

In modern times the haggis has seen various transformations, especially in fast-food joints. It has been put on a pizza, made into a haggis burger on a bun and even a haggis pakora has been seen in some Indian restaurants. There’s even a sport called haggis hurling, where competitors compete to see who can chuck their haggis the furthest.

Haggis, neeps, tatties

Haggis, neeps, tatties

 

Where to try it

If you’d rather eat your haggis than throw it across a field, then you should come to Scotland to try out the national dish. Hiring a campervan is a great source of alternative accommodation for your stay. Where can I find a great haggis then you ask? Well, Glasgow has some fantastic restaurants to cater to your haggis needs.

The City Merchant isn’t cheap, but their Flavours of Scotland menu is to die for, boasting many traditional dishes as well as haggis. Award-winning Babbity Bowster seems like quite a relaxed place to enjoy your haggis, you can choose to sit at a table or just around the bar and it’s supposedly very tasty! Rab Ha’s is a combined pub-restaurant with great service and various international foods on offer as well as haggis.

It’s hard to imagine that someone who hasn’t tried haggis before would be drooling at the prospect of trying out sheep’s organs. But, really, you should live a little, be daring and just give it a taste!