Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Poor Haggis


Much to his dad and mum's dismay
Horace ate himself one day
He didn't stop to say his grace
He just sat down and ate his face
"We can't have this!" his dad declared
"If that lad's ate he should be shared"
But even as he spoke they saw
Horace eating more and more:
First his legs and then his thighs,
His arms, his nose, his hair, his eyes
"Stop him someone!" Mother cried
"Those eyeballs would be better fried!"
But all too late for they were gone,
And he had started on his dong...
"Oh foolish child!" the father mourned
"You could have deep-fried those with prawns,
Some parsley and some tartar sauce..."
But H was on his second course;
His liver and his lights and lung,
His ears, his neck, his chin, his tongue
"To think I raised him from the cot
And now he's gone to scoff the lot!"
His mother cried what shall we do?
What's left won't even make a stew..."
And as she wept her son was seen
To eat his head his heart his spleen
And there he lay, a boy no more
Just a stomach on the floor...
None the less since it was his
They ate it - and that's what haggis is

From: Monty Python's Big Red Book
Published by NTC/Contemporary Publishing
Publication date: September 1980


J.L. said...

The question is... Have you ever tried haggis?

Marissa Beck said...

No, haven't eaten the Scottish delicacy... I'm typically not a fan of eating organ. Although liver is pretty good. Maybe Haggis is in my future. You?

J.L. said...

Yup. It's very tasty, a bit like spicy mince. It is very rich and fatty though. A small portion is all you would need. Traditionally, a Scot would eat haggis, neeps and tatties; that is, haggis, turnip, which are 'nippy' (peppery) in Scots parlance, and potatoes which would usually be mashed. Nary a more hearty meal can be found.

Afterwards, one can enjoy oatcakes and cheese, or (my favourite) cranachan, which is a dessert consisting of toasted oatmeal, brambles (wild raspberries), fresh cream and a dram of whisky.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that haggis has its origins in the practicalities of living in the remote and cold Highlands of Scotland, where the harsh conditions and poverty of the people of the land meant that if you had to kill a sheep for food, you might as well get the most nutritional benefit and nourishment from it.

The liver and kidneys would probably be used in other dishes, and (I think) aren't used in haggis. The principal ingredients are: minced mutton, onion, oatmeal, black pepper, the lights, and some brain.

A whole haggis, when cooked, easily feeds fifteen or more people. For that reason, it's only really practical to have a whole one at family gatherings, or special occasions like Burns Night or St. Andrew's Day. I buy it in a tin, and even that is enough for three or four people.

I encourage you to try some if you get the chance. Slàinte!

Marissa Beck said...

Wow-- JL, you seem to know lots about the arcane (at least in the USA) history of Haggis. At first glance, I thought Haggis was a cute name created by the poem's author. I think my arteries wouldn't be so pleased with me if I ate either Haggis or Cranachan (though both sound EXCELLENT--bar the dram of whiskey in the Cranachan — but perhaps that's the key ingredient that makes the meal...) Nonetheless, I would love to try some. There's nothing like waking up lazy taste buds and introducing some 'nippy' to the nip ;)

Haggis' origin seems accurate—especially since we are still dining on it today, which means the meal WORKED during those harsh conditions to feed many, and keep people nutritionally sated in order to escape the woes of famine.

thank you for this great 411! ~mb

J.L. said...

No worries - what kind of Scot would I be if I hadn't at least tried our most famous dish?!

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