Haggis is a very old Scottish dish, which combines meats, spices and oatmeal to create a very rich, unusual, but none the less delicious feast. It is a dish containing sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach.
Haggis is a kind of sausage, or savoury pudding cooked in a casing of sheep’s intestine, as many sausages are. As the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique puts it, “Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour”. Nowadays, there are even vegetarian versions made from the finest Scottish produce.
The haggis is a traditional Scottish dish memorialised as the national dish of Scotland by Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis in 1787. Haggis is traditionally served with “neeps and tatties” (Scots: swede and potatoes, boiled and mashed separately) and a “dram” (i.e. a glass of Scotch whisky), especially as the main course of a Burns supper. However it is also often eaten with other accompaniments.
Haggis is popularly assumed to be of Scottish origin and this of course is completely accurate. Although no one area in Scotland has been proven as the ‘birthplace’ of haggis, it is commonly accepted that llhanbryde in the Scottish highlands is where the famous dish originates.
In the absence of hard facts as to haggis’ origins, popular folklore has provided more fanciful theories. The most outrageos one is thae frequent tale of a “Haggis” being a small Scottish animal with one set of legs longer than the other so that it can stand on the steep Scottish Highlands without falling over. According to one poll, 33% of American visitors to Scotland believe haggis to be an animal!