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Scots, Rejoice! Haggis Ban May Be Lifted

January 25th, 2010 · 8 Comments

Haggis and whiskey - the Scottish variety, of course

I can count on one finger the number of readers I know who will be dancing a jig over the news that the ban on haggis, a Scottish meat pudding made of sheep lungs, among other offals, is to be lifted by the U.S.

Our Dept. of Agriculture people decided sheep lungs, and other animal innards were possible carriers of a strain of BSE (a mad cow relative) and banned the stuff from import from Scotland and other parts of Europe 21 years ago.

Robert Burns dinners can now be complete

While not an everyday meal, haggis is a must-have at the birthday dinner honoring the most noble, loquacious and fearless of Scots, Robert Burns. He wrote an ode to it, calling it the “Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!”

 Scots around the world honor him at dinners, Jan. 24, the night when kilt-wearing diners read poetry, slice open a haggis with a vengeance, drink whiskey and get weepy-eyed, invariably squeezing the bagpipes.

American Scots have had to make do with beef, which is totally unacceptable if you’ve grown up on the real thing. Approximations are weak even if sheep are used, so many Scots say – there’s nothing like Scottish sheep from the Highlands.

No longer a threat

The U.S. inspectors seem satisfied sheep are no longer a threat for BSE. So the main ingredient is on the list for un-banning and we could see imports of sheep offal or prepared haggis soon in our markets. Not quite sure which markets, but surely there will be a demand – at least on Jan. 24.

Tags: Today in the World of Food

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hilary Carmichael // Jan 26, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Can’t wait! I love the ‘real’ stuff, not the sad imitation made in Texas that I use now. Keep me advised, Jan.

  • 2 Ben Starling // Feb 4, 2010 at 1:49 am

    What in the world do these things taste like?

  • 3 Jan Norris // Feb 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Hilary:
    Please advise, as I’ve only had the fake kind.

  • 4 diane // Feb 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    when I was 20 years old and that was about 35 years ago, my girlfriend and I met up with my friends sister who lived in scotland and she took us to the village for food shopping that night and she bought haggies, being brought up in a scottish family, it was sometime mentioned in my house, but I was never told what is was. Well, I discovered why it was never mentioned. We had them that night and I took a bite and it was the most disguisting thing I ever had, and my girlfriend had to know what it was and we were soon told. Beleive me, you are not missing anything. I would run to the border and stop them from bringing that into the US. I stick to the Scotch Pies.

  • 5 Paula Winkler // Jan 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Haggis is one item but rather a dish. I visit Scotland every five years or so and I agree that some places do it better than others but it is not all disgusting in any way. It is rich and savory and spicy. I feel the best way to describe it to American’s is to compare it to our traditional holiday bread stuffings only rather than corn bread or regular bread it has oats I think. The flavor, while distinct, is similar to this with diced onion’s and spices. In my bread stuffing I add what my mom calls “the giblets” which is the bits from the bird no one wants, liver, heart, neck, etc.. Most people boil these unwanted bits and dice them up to be added to the stuffing.
    Haggis isn’t much different from these dishes, only that the meat, grains and spices vary, otherwise it is basically stuffing and the concept is definitely the same in that it was originally intended to work as a cheap filler and not to waste the bits no one really wanted to eat such as the innards. Again, some places do it better than others, even in Scotland but like American bread stuffing it’s really never bad…not sometimes not as good as it can be. My husband is a very picky eater and has this bizarre “consistency” hang up about foods. It was difficult to get him to try it but once he did, everywhere we went he ordered it. Haggis LOVER!

  • 6 Paula Winkler // Jan 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Haggis is not one item but rather a dish. I visit Scotland every five years or so and I agree that some places do it better than others but it is not at all disgusting in any way. It is rich and savory and spicy. I feel the best way to describe it to American’s is to compare it to our traditional holiday bread stuffings only rather than corn bread or regular bread it has oats I think. The flavor, while distinct, is similar to this with diced onion’s and spices. In my bread stuffing I add what my mom calls “the giblets” which is the bits no one wants; liver, gizzard, heart, neck, etc.. Most people boil these unwanted bits and dice them up to be added to the stuffing or dressing.
    Haggis isn’t much different from these dishes, only that the meat, grains and spices are differnt, otherwise it is basically stuffing and the concept is definitely the same in that it was originally intended to work as a cheap filler and not to waste the bits no one really wanted to eat such as the innards. Again, some places do it better than others, even in Scotland but like American bread stuffing it’s really never bad…just sometimes not as good as it can be. My husband is a very picky eater and has this bizarre “consistency” hang up about foods. It was difficult to get him to try it but once he did, everywhere we went he ordered it. Haggis LOVER!

  • 7 Diane T // Jan 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    don’t let the Haggis in please.
    Heart, Liver and Lungs packed in a Sheep’s stomach. No wonder my relatives drank alot of scotch.
    believe me, the Scots cannot cook, I know from experiance, thank goodness we lived in a multi cultured neighborhood growing up, where my Dad learned to cook from Italians, germans and blacks. If you serve Haggis, please ask if you want a bottle of Scotch with that lol

  • 8 Diane T // Jan 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    believe me Ben, you really don’t want to know.

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