It was the year of our lord two thousand and eight. After celebrating the thirteenth anniversary of the release of “Braveheart”, I thought to myself, why not go to Scotland? I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland. I’ve wanted to see the castles, visit St. Andrews Golf Course; put my rod & reel in Loch Ness and try to catch Nessie; and of course, try haggis, the national dish of Scotland. The first three things on my list were not that hard to accomplish.
See Edinburgh and Stirling Castle, check! Take a bus to St. Andrews and visit St. Andrews Castle and St. Andrews Golf Course, check! Head to Loch Ness and put my Zepco 350 in the water and fish for Nessie, check! The fourth item on my travel checklist was a little harder to check off, but ultimately it was checked, eat haggis…
For those of you who do not know what haggis is it’s a dish containing a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs; that are minced together with onions, oatmeal, mutton fat, spices and salt and then mixed with stock. I know your taste buds are watering already but it gets even better! That mixture is then stuffed into the stomach of the sheep and boiled or baked for approximately three hours. I know what you are thinking “I just found my replacement for that tired old Thanksgiving Day turkey!” In Scotland, haggis is usually served with “neeps and tatties” or yellow turnips and potatoes and is complimented with a nice Scotch Whiskey.
Bryan and Jessica and I were out on the town and had been doing quite a bit of Scotch tasting that day along with sampling many of the fine Scottish ales. So what better way to end the day then try the national dish of Scotland? We were at Deacon Brodies, if you’re ever in Edinburgh definitely check it out! We ordered our haggis as an appetizer for the table to share. The haggis was sliced round in a patty almost like sausage, served on top of tatties and covered with a whiskey sauce. With apprehensive forks we dug in. The texture was gritty and it had a very strong metallic taste; like I had just put a penny in my mouth that was covered in sand. But in all honesty, it was not as bad as what I thought it would be. Surprisingly we finished all the haggis on the plate and at that moment I could feel William Wallace coursing through my veins. I felt good, I felt like a man! I knew at some point I would want that feeling again.
While out doing some serious souvenir shopping I came across canned haggis. I thought to myself, my dad would love this, he would love to feel William Wallace coursing through his veins, plus he will eat anything. So I made the purchase and stuffed it away in my bag. Souvenirs in hand and a camera full of pictures it was time to head back to the states. I made it through Scotland with my haggis, and I made it through London Heathrow with my haggis, but the TSA customs agents at DFW airport were a bit wearier as to why I was bringing a perishable item through customs. As I was making my way through customs one of the agents was checking my bag and she pulled out my haggis. I tried to explain to her what it was. The next thing I knew she summoned two more customs agents over to inspect my haggis. They wanted to know why it was in a can if it was meat and why was their liquid that sloshed like the juice inside a can of pears? I tried to explain to them what haggis was and that it was a canned meat and the liquid was there to help preserve it.
When I finally related it to the equivalent of America’s Spam, they cocked their heads to the right and gave me a glassy stare and said “oh, Scottish Spam, that should be okay.” So ultimately I was able to bring my haggis home and gave it to my dad as a souvenir. That haggis sat on the shelf until this past Thanksgiving when my dad had purchased a new turkey fryer, so this year at Thanksgiving we had both a fried turkey and fried haggis. There was a lot to be thankful for this past year; but mostly that the canned haggis had no expiration date and was still edible.
Check out the link below to get your own canned haggis, just like Shades, or find a recipe and try to make your own.