Skip to comments.Majestic haggis of the glens proves elusive for US tourists
Posted on 11/27/2003 1:52:42 AM PST by ijcr
The enduring myth of the haggis still contributes to the Scottish travel trade, according to a poll yesterday that suggested a third of US visitors believe the delicacy to be an animal.
As government statisticians reported the number of North Americans visiting Scotland fell from 606,000 in 1998 to 504,000 last year, the haggis manufacturers Hall's of Broxburn revealed evidence of the misconceptions from an online survey.
The poll of 1,000 US visitors to Scotland found 33% thought haggis was an animal; 23% said they came to Scotland believing they could catch one.
The company said it had interviewed one tourist who thought the haggis was "a wild beast of the Highlands, no bigger than a grouse, which only came out at night". Another claimed it sometimes ventured into the cities, like a fox.
Haggis is traditionally made out of a sheep's stomach filled with liver, heart lung, oatmeal, suet, stock, onions and spices.
Despite the pull of the haggis, the number of foreigners visiting Scotland declined last year, while visits to the UK as a whole increased by more than 1.3m.
One may wonder at the traditional relationship between Scotch whisky and haggis,i.e., was Scotch invented because one had to eat haggis or was haggis invented because the cook had a wee bit too much Scotch? Either way, it all worked out well. Slante' Mhath!
Lots of laughs...but I wholeheartedly agree that Haggis has got to be some of the worst tasting stuff ever to hit my stomach!
Hunting the haggis is no easy matter. Before you have even ventured out on hills armed with your meuran (the standard tool of the haggis hunter) there are myriad traditions to be observed.
Central to the art is stealth. Like the deer stalker, the haggis hunter must be silent, invisible and without odour. Fortunately, while the haggis has incredibly acute senses, these function over a very narrow range. Thus the haggis hunter has to be only a bit silent, a bit invisible and a little without odour.
The haggis can hear only certain high pitched sounds with any clarity. By whacking turnips with a mallet next to a haggis warren, or fobhrÃste, the prominent cryptobiologist Ima Maidep-Nayim has proved that the animal does not react to low thudding sounds. However, even a light rustling can make these delicate creatures bolt.
By perverse coincidence, the sound the haggis is most sensitive to is that of plaid rubbing on underpants. No-one knows why this should be, perhaps this almost undetectable noise mimics exactly the sound of a golden eagle plummeting towards its target. Whatever the reason, the aim of a haggis hunter who sports underwear will never be true. Hence, the tradition that "true Scots" wear nothing under their kilt.
As far as masking the hunter's smell is concerned, there is only one substance that can hide the multifarious odours of a haggiser: whisky. Preferable, the hunter should be absolutely drenched in the stuff to mask any scent. Many's the ignorant laird who has given his gamekeeper a tongue-lashing for smelling of alcohol and then had to issue a cringeing apology after learning this bit of haggis lore.
Finally, the haggis hunter must make himself invisible to his prey. Much like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a creature to which it is not often compared, the haggis has eyes that react most effectively to movement, but only movement in a straight line. In order to creep up on their prey, haggis hunters must disguise their approach by adopting a shambling, apparently random gait. This is known as havering.
Thus, if you encounter a Scot stinking of whisky, shuffling down the street in an ungainly fashion with their kilt flapping round their bare backside you know they are only hunting the haggis. To show that you are au fait with "the hunt", approach him (or her) and say in a loud voice: "Ach, your havering". A lively discussion should ensue.
The only time to enjoy haggis is after enjoying a liter of Glenfiddich.
LOL...they served haggis at breakfast at the B&B my husband and I stayed in in Edinburgh on our honeymoon. I knew what haggis was and steered well clear of it, but a couple of other American tourists mistook it for sausage patties. However, upon being told that it was haggis, they understood that it was a sheep stomach stuffed with offal. They KNOW.
I love telling people what makes black pudding black. The look of abject horror is priceless. :-) Ever read the ingredients in black pudding?
Dried BLOOD and PORK FAT.
EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Might as well eat a jam rag wrapped in bacon. Sick.
Can't say I've ever tasted those. :-)
I'm certainly not going until they stop exploiting the poor endangered creature.
Seriously though, judging by the two responses they give as examples I suspect at least some of those polled were pulling the pollsters leg (say that five times fast).
I'm up for eating almost anything, but I don't I'd want my haggis canned. Now fresh haggis is definetly high up on my list of foods I want to try some day.
"Hae ye heard whit ma auld mither's postit tae me?
It fair maks me hamesick," says Private McPhee.
"And whit did she send ye?" says Private McPhun,
As he cockit his rifle and bleezed at a Hun.
"A haggis! A HAGGIS!" says Private McPhee;
"The brawest big haggis I ever did see.
And think! it's the morn when fond memory turns
Tae haggis and whuskey -- the Birthday o' Burns.
We maun find a dram; then we'll ca' in the rest
O' the lads, and we'll hae a Burns' Nicht wi' the best."
"Be ready at sundoon," snapped Sergeant McCole;
"I want you two men for the List'nin' Patrol."
Then Private McPhee looked at Private McPhun:
"I'm thinkin', ma lad, we're confoundedly done."
Then Private McPhun looked at Private McPhee:
"I'm thinkin' auld chap, it's a' aff wi' oor spree."
But up spoke their crony, wee Wullie McNair:
"Jist lea' yer braw haggis for me tae prepare;
And as for the dram, if I search the camp roun',
We maun hae a drappie tae jist haud it doon.
Sae rin, lads, and think, though the nicht it be black,
O' the haggis that's waitin' ye when ye get back."
My! but it wis waesome on Naebuddy's Land,
And the deid they were rottin' on every hand.
And the rockets like corpse candles hauntit the sky,
And the winds o' destruction went shudderin' by.
There wis skelpin' o' bullets and skirlin' o' shells,
And breengin' o' bombs and a thoosand death-knells;
But cooryin' doon in a Jack Johnson hole
Little fashed the twa men o' the List'nin' Patrol.
For sweeter than honey and bricht as a gem
Wis the thocht o' the haggis that waitit for them.
Yet alas! in oor moments o' sunniest cheer
Calamity's aften maist cruelly near.
And while the twa talked o' their puddin' divine
The Boches below them were howkin' a mine.
And while the twa cracked o' the feast they would hae,
The fuse it wis burnin' and burnin' away.
Then sudden a roar like the thunner o' doom,
A hell-leap o' flame . . . then the wheesht o' the tomb.
"Haw, Jock! Are ye hurtit?" says Private McPhun.
"Ay, Geordie, they've got me; I'm fearin' I'm done.
It's ma leg; I'm jist thinkin' it's aff at the knee;
Ye'd best gang and leave me," says Private McPhee.
"Oh leave ye I wunna," says Private McPhun;
"And leave ye I canna, for though I micht run,
It's no faur I wud gang, it's no muckle I'd see:
I'm blindit, and that's whit's the maitter wi' me."
Then Private McPhee sadly shakit his heid:
"If we bide here for lang, we'll be bidin' for deid.
And yet, Geordie lad, I could gang weel content
If I'd tasted that haggis ma auld mither sent."
"That's droll," says McPhun; "ye've jist speakit ma mind.
Oh I ken it's a terrible thing tae be blind;
And yet it's no that that embitters ma lot --
It's missin' that braw muckle haggis ye've got."
For a while they were silent; then up once again
Spoke Private McPhee, though he whussilt wi' pain:
"And why should we miss it? Between you and me
We've legs for tae run, and we've eyes for tae see.
You lend me your shanks and I'll lend you ma sicht,
And we'll baith hae a kyte-fu' o' haggis the nicht."
Oh the sky it wis dourlike and dreepin' a wee,
When Private McPhun gruppit Private McPhee.
Oh the glaur it wis fylin' and crieshin' the grun',
When Private McPhee guidit Private McPhun.
"Keep clear o' them corpses -- they're maybe no deid!
Haud on! There's a big muckle crater aheid.
Look oot! There's a sap; we'll be haein' a coup.
A staur-shell! For Godsake! Doun, lad, on yer daup.
Bear aff tae yer richt. . . . Aw yer jist daein' fine:
Before the nicht's feenished on haggis we'll dine."
There wis death and destruction on every hand;
There wis havoc and horror on Naebuddy's Land.
And the shells bickered doun wi' a crump and a glare,
And the hameless wee bullets were dingin' the air.
Yet on they went staggerin', cooryin' doun
When the stutter and cluck o' a Maxim crept roun'.
And the legs o' McPhun they were sturdy and stoot,
And McPhee on his back kept a bonnie look-oot.
"On, on, ma brave lad! We're no faur frae the goal;
I can hear the braw sweerin' o' Sergeant McCole."
But strength has its leemit, and Private McPhun,
Wi' a sab and a curse fell his length on the grun'.
Then Private McPhee shoutit doon in his ear:
"Jist think o' the haggis! I smell it from here.
It's gushin' wi' juice, it's embaumin' the air;
It's steamin' for us, and we're -- jist -- aboot -- there."
Then Private McPhun answers: "Dommit, auld chap!
For the sake o' that haggis I'll gang till I drap."
And he gets on his feet wi' a heave and a strain,
And onward he staggers in passion and pain.
And the flare and the glare and the fury increase,
Till you'd think they'd jist taken a' hell on a lease.
And on they go reelin' in peetifu' plight,
And someone is shoutin' away on their right;
And someone is runnin', and noo they can hear
A sound like a prayer and a sound like a cheer;
And swift through the crash and the flash and the din,
The lads o' the Hielands are bringin' them in.
"They're baith sairly woundit, but is it no droll
Hoo they rave aboot haggis?" says Sergeant McCole.
When hirplin alang comes wee Wullie McNair,
And they a' wonnert why he wis greetin' sae sair.
And he says: "I'd jist liftit it oot o' the pot,
And there it lay steamin' and savoury hot,
When sudden I dooked at the fleech o' a shell,
And it -- DRAPPED ON THE HAGGIS AND DINGED IT TAE HELL."
And oh but the lads were fair taken aback;
Then sudden the order wis passed tae attack,
And up from the trenches like lions they leapt,
And on through the nicht like a torrent they swept.
On, on, wi' their bayonets thirstin' before!
On, on tae the foe wi' a rush and a roar!
And wild to the welkin their battle-cry rang,
And doon on the Boches like tigers they sprang:
And there wisna a man but had death in his ee,
For he thocht o' the haggis o' Private McPhee.
Aye, it does make the haggis taste better when coming back up...urrp