I must say I am partial to chopped animal offal mixed-up with some oatmeal, suet and spices and packed into a sheep’s stomach; as well as stuffed lamb hearts. I located only one local butcher in Edinburgh which received lamb hearts, and even then I was of only one or two customers who routinely purchased them; and definitely the only under 60 years of age. This is not to say, though, that Chinese and Filopino clientele did not buy pig hearts.
Despite certain of the local butchers in Caithness boasting that they stock freshly killed haggis, none sell organically reared haggis. Thus, the only bit of dead animal I purchase routinely now from a supermarket is MacSween’s Haggis.
Lovely, and a little bit of Scotland. Or is it? Food historian Catherine Brown has located the first printed references to a haggis-like recipe in the 1615 publication, The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman by Gervase Markham, an equally English poet and writer who stated, “this small oatmeat mixed with the blood of either sheep, calfe or swine, maketh that pudding which is called the haggas”. Indeed, the etymology of haggis derives from a late Medieval English word ‘hageur’, from which we get hash/hack.
This would predate the ennobling of the haggis by some washed-out, womanizing alkie from Ayrshire by 171 years; and in Scottish texts, according to Brown, by 130 years.
Am I threatened? Is my sense of national identity so weak that I am now inclined to forgo haggis and seek-out authentic Scottish dishes, such as boiled guga/gannet or whisky breakfasts? Of course not, because I am not a twat.
Alas, certain fellow tribesmen of mine have more trunculent views. The Guardian declares that “after the English claim”, Scots are saying “hands off our haggis”. This Scot was not consulted, and really does not care.
There is nothing uniquely Scottish about the haggis. In Food: a History, Felipe Fernadez Armesto observes that whilst the haggis may have become associated with Scots society, the concept of using an animal’s innards as part of batteries de cuisine is commonplace throughout nomadic and thrifty societies. What makes the haggis recognizably North British, maybe, is the emphasis on oatmeal; which also points to roots in an agrarian cuisine.
And, as sure as eggs is eggs, Fish-heid McMoonface has stepped onto the fore. The print edition of the Aberdeen Press and Journal for 5 August reports this boviating banker going at it like a cut-price Mr Eugenides:
Haggis is our institution and we will defend it to the last. The haggis grab is akin to a land grab and this is a sign of its culniary success as a swanky dish.
No, you banker, this is a land-grab. See this difference?
Like most of Scotland, Salmond is a disgrace to Scotland. The problem is is, he cannot be dismissed as a Special Brew swilling, Scotch pie chomping, incoherent nyaff. He is the First Minister.
Wa’ like us? None, thank fuck.
UPDATE – Salmond’s latest brainfart can be found online at The Sunday Mail (hat-tip O’Neill at Unionist Lite). In further passive agressive claims dismissal of any revolting Scots as non-Scots, he also stated: “I don’t mind the English claiming haggis as their own, as long as they leave us our country”. So which is it Alex… d’you plan to fight for the haggis to the last, or would you opportunistically sacrifice this great symbol just for an independent Scotland?
You are disgraceful little chancer, ain’t you?