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Scottish Haggis Understand Our Traditional Scottish Dish

Haggis is probably the least understood but undoubtedly the best known Scottish food. However a lot of Scots just cannot face the idea of eating Haggis.

It is said and I believe it that most people would not have even heard of the Haggis if it had not been for our national poet Robert Burns. He referred to it as the Chieftain of the Pudding Race in his poem “Address To The Haggis“.

Today over 210 years after the death of Robert Burns that poem is still said throughout the world especially on 25th January when we hold our Burns Night celebrations.

We give the full version of the poem “Address To the Haggis” poem on The same section of the website includes a template menu for those looking to organise their own Burns Night supper. The menu template includes the Selkirk Grace (our famous Scottish Grace) almost always used before the start of the Burns Night Meal.

The haggis can also be eaten as a Haggis Supper at local take-away shops. This is simply deep fried haggis with chipped potatoes (French fries outside of Scotland). You can also buy the haggis in many supermarkets although numbers available on the shelf do seem to increase in mid January then fall away again when sales tend to decrease. However this does not tell us what is the secret recipe that makes Haggis so special.

Ask a Scot and they will tell you a Haggis is a small animal with its two left legs shorter than the right legs. Females have the short leg on the right so you tell them apart easier! Charles Darwin, the man who came up with the theory of evolution,would have been able to point to this survival of the fittest theory and show scientifically that the shorter legs on one side allows them to run faster round the sides of steep hills in order to escape larger animals like man or sabre tooth tigers.

It has been known for ticket touts to offer tourists the chance to go night-time haggis hunting which would of course involve them paying cash up front and arranging to meet later that night. Obviously the guide never shows up!

In reality the haggis is made up of the cheapest cuts of meat available usually a sheep making it popular for poorer families in ancient times (although venison haggis is eaten in some areas). The main ingredients tend to be oats and several different meats usually mutton, offal (i.e. heart, liver and lungs) all minced (or ground) along with onion and suet all heavily spiced according to different traditions. After mixing it all together it will be placed inside a sheep’s stomach as a lining before being boiled and served usually with neeps (turnip) and boiled potato. On many occasions by tradition this plate of haggis, tatties and neeps would be served with a dram of Scotch whisky anything other than Scotch whisky would considered sacrilege.

To suit modern day tastes the sheep’s stomach is usually replaced with an artificial casing and vegetarian friendly ingredients will often replace the meat and offal.

There are other regulations that have impacted on the contents of our haggis. For example if you live in the United States the local haggis will not include any lungs(lights) it is ruled to unfit for human comsumption.

If you want to know more about this traditional Scottish dish please come to our Scottish culture website

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