Pudding Face’d Nationalism

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?

10 Responses to “Pudding Face’d Nationalism”

  1. Dominic H Says:

    Lamb hearts? Verging on being a staple dish among the native population here in Essex (notably unlike in London). Stocked in pretty much any place that sells meat (also unlike in London), always very reasonably priced.

    What a difference 35 miles can make.

    Braise em for a couple of hours in Beaujolais, and then serve with sage & onion stuffin, that’s what I say.

  2. Alec Says:

    I’m happy to pay 50p for one heart. I even get the pigs trotters or lamb testicles free ‘cos no-one else thinks of eating them.

    Is Beaujolais a Papist tipple? And, d’you mean serve the stuffing separately?

  3. Dominic H Says:

    Isn’t most good drink inherently papist to start with…. (I’ll grant an exemption to that rule for various Bushmills products, and some other Northern Irish tipple the exact allegiances of the owners of which I am uncertain, not least the very fine stout from Newry I had last night)

    Well, if you’re cooking the heart that way you don’t have any choice but to prepare the stuffing separately, so, essentially, yes. (Even if thus it is deprived of the purpose that its name suggests)

    (I suppose you could do it in a casserole pot in the oven – but I’m not sure that sage+onion would work well by taking on the winey flavours so much)

  4. INDYPAL Says:

    Hmm, clearly you don’t recognise a joke when you hear it.

    I’m not saying its a funny joke but it’s still a joke.

    It is interesting to speculate why a nationalist first minister seems able to joke about the nationalist connotations of haggis but you take it all terribly seriously.

    Maybe you should lighten up a bit?

  5. Alec Says:

    Maybe it was the sea breezes oop in Stornoway, but he is the *First* *Minister*. Jokes are one thing, but one has difficulty making a funny joke, one should maybe demure. Especially if one is *First* *Minister*.

    Then again, this is the chiel who turned the Diageo affair into a broadside against “London boardrooms“, so why should I give him the benefit of the doubt when another pot-stiring remark comes along?

    Plus, I don’t think you meant to say “nationalist”. That carries all the negative imagery of fascistic thought and mealy-mouthed prejudice.

    Maybe you should lighten up a bit?

    Should I accept that Salmond ain’t whiter-than-white?

    PS I will try that, Dominic.

  6. INDYPAL Says:

    I didn’t know ‘demure’ was a verb.

    Not a very appropriate one for the FM….

  7. Caroline Says:

    I’m pretty sure Douglas Mackay at William Mackay & Son in Thurso does lamb hearts if you’re after some.

  8. Alec Says:

    Hi, Caroline.

    I already get my hearts from Dougie. It’s the organically-reared haggises I miss. Not to mention wee game birds like woodpigeon.

    Indypal, it’s better than using progress as one.

  9. SpEak You’re bRanes « A Rabbit's Eye View of the Hyperborean North Says:

    […] coming from a man who would fight for the haggis on the beaches. What does he know, anyway? He was not even born here. He added: […]

  10. Fish-Heid McMoonface: It Is My Country and I Will Cry If I Want To « A Rabbit's Eye View of the Hyperborean North Says:

    […] the hint, and step down as a Westminster MP at the next General Election, and dedicate his life to fighting to the death for the haggis.  But not before, in his view, he should be permitted to appear […]

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