Haggis. For some reason, that word seems to conjure looks of extreme disgust on the faces of most Americans. "Do you even know what it is?" I ask. Or, better yet, in between the "icks" and "ews" I question "Have you ever even tasted it?" Not surprisingly, most people answer with a sheepish "No."
Granted, haggis, which is essentially a spiced lamb and oatmeal sausage, gets a bum rap in the U.S. primarily because much of what you find in this country is canned and more closely resembles a mushy, livery blob. Authentic, fresh Scottish haggis cannot be imported into the United States due to strict regulations.
But haggis really can be delicious. So I decided to prove it to my friends. Luckily for me, and my Scottish husband, Friday night January 25th just so happens to be Burns Night, a Scottish holiday celebrating the birthday of Scotland's beloved poet, Robert Burns. A night when the homely little haggis is properly revered.
A key element of Burns Night--whether a grande formal affair or just a few friends getting together--is haggis, traditionally served with neeps (turnips; although I believe what they use in Scotland is actually what we know as rutabagas in the U.S.) and tatties (mashed potatoes) and a wee lick of whisky.
My first order of business was finding an edible haggis in the Bay Area. Either that or make my own, which I was willing to do if it came down to it. Fortunately, there are enough people in the Bay Area who like it that I found a few excellent referrals to a little shop called The Scottish Meat Pie Co., who actually make their own fresh haggis. Granted, I still had to work for it as they aren't officially in the Bay Area, but in a little town called Dixon near Sacramento. But I love my Scottish husband and I wanted to celebrate his Scottishness properly. As well as prove to my friends that haggis is delicious.