Haggis – The Famous Scottish Specialty.


Scots love their haggis. It is filling, and still today nourishes thousands of poor students. University cafeterias in Scotland often must feature haggis on popular demand.

Surprisingly, haggis has never gained any level of popularity in North America, regardless of the fact that people of Scottish descent represent a good portion of the population.

This Scottish specialty consists of sheep’s heart, lungs, liver, onion, suet fat, oatmeal and seasonings, all finely chopped and stuffed in a sheep’s stomach and boiled for a long time. Essentially it is a coarse textured, boiled sausage, which frugal Scots eat with rutabaga (Swede) and mashed potatoes.

Frugal Scots invented haggis centuries ago to make good use of sheep they had in abundance, and to survive the cold winters of their homeland. Needless to say, the national drink, the Scottish whisky, is an excellent accompaniment to haggis.

Robert Burns (born in Ayrshire January 1759 and died in Dunfries July 1796), the famous Scottish poet and bard, made haggis famous with his “Address to haggis”.

He was an excellent observer of social scenes, people, customs, and the environment. In his short life, some claim, R. Burns accomplished more than many other famous Scottish personalities.

He was the oldest of seven children of a Scottish farmer, and had the ability to accurately depict the population of rural Scotland vividly and in very compelling fashion.

Every January his admirers, and there are thousands all over the world, organize a haggis dinner to commemorate this birthday. The haggis is ceremonially piped in and “split” by the master of ceremonies after reading the now famous Address to a Haggis.

If you wish to attend a haggis dinner, be aware that the poem is very long, but such dinners are fun, and whisky flows.

Germans have a similar specialty called saumagen. This specialty of Palatinate consists of potatoes, carrots, pork, onions, coriander, thyme, garlic bay leaf, cardamom, basil, caraway, allspice, and parsley. Occasionally beef is substituted in a pig’s stomach, and boiled, hence the name saumagen (sau=pig, and mage=stomach).

Apparently Mr H Kohl, long time chancellor of Germany, and the architect of the Reunification of east and west Germanys, liked to offer this specialty to his official guests such as Mrs. Thatcher, President Reagan just to name two. We do not know whether anyone of them refuse to eat it.

I do remember refusing it when offered a few years ago.

Apparently Swedes have something similar to saumagen called polsa, but served with fried potatoes, beetroot and occasionally with fried eggs. Of course in olden days Scandinavian country folk could afford to eat such fatty food to resist the legendary cold winters and in those days everyone walked much more than today.

People always invcent new rexcipes to make use of ngredients available aroudnthem, and always somehow manage to macth their food invention with the national drin.