Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Only Real Scot’s Eat Haggis

If you were to ask most people ‘What is a classic Scottish dish?’, more often than not, the answer would be haggis. Now we’re living in Scotland, I was looking forward to finding some good haggis to sink my teeth into. Many people have said to be careful when you order this Scottish cuisine, as the quality of haggis can vary from place to place.  With Cara’s parents visiting from Australia at the moment, we decided to take a day trip to beautiful Edinburgh, and I decided to take the opportunity to seek out some good haggis for lunch.

The last time Cara and I were in Edinburgh, it was a gorgeous warm sunny day. This time we were not so lucky. But even in the wind and rain, Edinburgh is still very picturesque. As we walked toward the famous Edinburgh castle, the weather took a turn for the worse and we found a nice little Scottish pub to stop for lunch.  They were offering a traditional style haggis dish, served with mash potato and mashed pumpkin. Trying something new is always a gamble, but new foods don’t scare me anymore and I was looking forward to what would be presented before me.

It’s probably best not to speak about the contents of haggis, as it can sound quite off-putting, but i suppose it’s good to know what you are about to eat.  Haggis is a mixture of sheep’s offal (heart, liver and lungs), along with onion and oatmeal. It’s then well seasoned with spices and salt and pepper. Stock is then added to the mixture and It's left to simmer for 3 hours.

No one knows for sure where the idea for haggis came from. There is no definitive proof that it even comes from Scotland. However, the first recipe for haggis in print was around 1430, in a cookbook from the north west of the United Kingdom.  One of the theories is that haggis was offered to the workman in the slaughter houses. After all the prime cuts of meat had been cut and sold, the leftovers were minced and seasoned and given to the workers

When my meal arrived, It looked interesting, but quite nice. It tasted even better. The mixture of flavours worked well together. The use of herbs and seasoning is a huge part of the overall dish. Without it, it would be extremely bland. In this particular dish, I could also taste strong onion and garlic flavours. You could argue that the use of the garlic, onion, herbs and spices are there to disguise the taste to the offal, but what ever the reason, it works.  I washed it all down with a local beer brewed in Edinburgh, “Innes & Gunn”. This independent brewing company was established in 2003. It’s popularity in Scotland is largely due to it’s unique brewing style. It’s brewed and fermented in white oak whisky barrels which gives it an after-taste which is unlike any beer I’ve had before. Together with the haggis, I felt like I was having the full Scottish experience.

After an amazing lunch, the rain eased and we continued exploring Edinburgh. I thoroughly enjoyed my first haggis meal and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

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