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Scotland is more than a wee land of kilts and bagpipers. It’s also the home of the most manly of foods—haggis. In our haggis taste test we try this food, which is basically a sheep’s stomach stuffed with sheep lungs, offal, oatmeal and spices. It may sound awful but it is so esteemed in local folklore that famed Scottish poet Robert Burns even wrote an ode called “An Address to A Haggis.” How many foods can claim such a literary heritage?
Every year on January 25th, Burns’ birthday, Scots all over the world congregate to celebrate their literary hero and devour a feast of haggis. The haggis is led in a procession preceded by a bagpiper, odes are read and much whiskey is drunk. Eventually the host spears the haggis with a dagger to release the steam or “reek.” And boy does it reek. Typically it is served with neeps and tatties, that’s mashed potatoes and turnip for those of you for whom English is your primary language.
During our time in Scotland our goal was to try haggis in every form imaginable. Well it was Michael’s goal. He had basic forms of it in pubs, fancy haggis (yes such a thing exists) set in tiers at posh restaurants, haggis bon bons, curry haggis, haggis lasagna and haggis potato chips. His one regret was that the restaurant serving haggis soup had run out.
For our American readers who are hankering for some haggis we’re sorry to say you can’t get authentic haggis in America, some crazy rule about importing products with sheep lungs. So you need to head to Scotland for the real thing. That’s not so bad since Scotland has been one of the highlights of our year-long journey.
Here’s a video of our haggis taste test, including haggis curry and haggis potato chips. Yum.
If reading this has gotten you really hungry here’s a link to our story about a tasty kokorec sandwich we devoured in Istanbul, it’s made from sheep intestine. A few months later we tried to find kokorec at one of the many Turkish doner kebab shops in Berlin but were told it’s illegal to sell it in Germany. Apparently they run into the same problem as importing haggis into the US.
And if you’re really, really hungry here’s our taste test of lamb tongues in New Zealand.
What are some of your favorite foods with unusual ingredients?