In times past, when tribal societies killed their own food animals, it made sense to use as much of the animal’s innards as possible. When that included using the stomach as the bag in an early boil-in-the-bag recipe, the haggis was born. This easily portable sustenance uses the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep, chopped up and mixed with suet, oatmeal, onion and spices, all stuffed into the stomach and cooked in simmering hot water for a few hours.

This was not just a Scottish practice but, along with whisky, shortbread, smoked salmon and deep-fried Mars bars, it has become strongly associated with Scotland. The poet Robert Burns (1759-96) greatly helped this along with his ‘Address to a Haggis’ (1786) praising its superiority over other savoury puddings.

Today’s haggis recipe may include cow, pig or deer and omit the suet. There are haggis burgers and even ‘vegetarian haggis’, a misnomer if ever there was one! Haggis can, apparently, be cooked in a microwave (after removing the ‘skin’ and slicing to avoid it exploding!) and it can be purchased in upmarket grocery stores, especially around the time of Burns Night (25th January). Of course, it is bound to give rise to parody:-

(Top image [cropped]: Drew Leavy at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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