Great Chieftain o' the Pudden-Race Legalized, Something to Celebrate at Burns Night Tonight


free at last, free at last

Many proud Scotsman celebrate the birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns—January 25, as it happens—with dish of haggis. This is because Burns created the world's foremost, and perhaps only, instance compelling pro-haggis verse. But true haggis imports from Scotland have been illegal in the United States (a tragedy I lamented in these pages many Burns Nights ago), for the last 21 years thanks to ungrounded fears about mad cow disease transmission.

But this week the World Organization for Animal Health ruled sheep's lungs do not convey a variant of the disease, and the U.S. is expected to reopen the haggis floodgates shortly. (Don't think too hard about the phrase "haggis floodgates.")

The Spectator's Alex Massie tells the tale and gives credit where it is due:

During the long, dark years of prohibition some enterprising American butchers stepped into the breach and made versions of the noble creature that attempted to emulate the real thing. While fine as far as they go such enterprises can only go so far. Trying to make haggis without using sheeps' lungs is, in the end, an insuperable problem. All heart but not enough pluck, you might say.

So here at least Obama has achieved something that neither his predecessor nor Bill Clinton had the courage to take on. Granted, this may not rise to even the Midnight Backetball level of small but promising initiatives launched on the back of electoral setbacks. But, my friends, it is a start

For 6 million Americans of Scottish descent, well, this pretty much sums up the situation:

"It was a silly ban which meant a lot of people have never tasted the real thing," said Margaret Frost, of the Scottish American Society in Ohio. "We have had to put up with the US version, which is made from beef and is bloody awful."

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  1. You can lay a lot of problems at the feet of American goverment, but messing up the taste of haggis probably isn’t one of them.

  2. This is one substance ban I support.


  3. I have one of those cans in my pantry…

    1. You are such an outlaw! [sigh]

  4. The Urkobold’s corner on the canned haggis black market could be coming to an end. Expect taint withering on a global scale.


  5. A can’s a can for a’that.

  6. I prefer oatcakes and thistles.

    1. You really haven’t lived till you’ve tried the fried haggis on a stick from Check’s in Glasgow. Seriously-awesome haggis.

      1. “Seriously-awesome haggis”

        Is that like awesome shit?

        1. Hey, nothing shits like haggis.

          1. That’s because it comes in the same way it comes out.

  7. Just had some good, US-made Haggis at the annual B. Burns celebration Saturday night hosted by my original pipe band. My 14-year-old son even ate his. I didn’t have the heart to tell him more than that it’s “oatmeal and lamb meat and spices.” He ate all of it 🙂

    So bring on the imports – I think Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery (Redford, MI) can stand up to the onslaught.

  8. I’ve only had haggis in the U.S. once and it was okay but not something I would order again. Then I went to Scotland and had the real thing… it was damn tasty with tatties and neeps! Definitely one of those things where the reputation is largely unjustified (especially considering you don’t actually eat the casing). Now black pudding, on the other hand, I can do without.

  9. We’ve been promoting the noble haggis at Urkobold since highnumber’s inception date.

    My prediction? Haggis is going to be the next sushi.

    1. Haggis is going to be the next sushi.


    2. Dude, I highly recommend opening a series of trendy HaggisBars in cities like Miami, Vegas, LA. I can totally see this taking off. Dammit, it’s the Scots’ turn to be sexy.

      1. Sexy Scottish madness is already taking the U.S. by storm.

        1. Well, the plaid miniskirt can never go out of style. Call me when the kids are Highland Flingin’ it like it’s hot in da club, and bagpipes are the new auto-tune.

          1. I pity all so cruelly spited by nature to have been denied Scottish birth…

          2. When haggis bars start popping up in trendy locations, people will demand authentic, Highland-accoutered haggis chefs. And, as with sushi, American variations will be introduced. Haggis ice cream. Vegetarian haggis. Haggis pizza. And so on.

            “Um, we’d like two Nessie haggis rolls, as well as three Traditional rolls. Some sheep salad would be nice, too. Say, do you have anything to drink besides Scotch?”

            1. Truly a proud day for all of Scotland.

              I don’t have to actually eat the stuff though do I?

              1. [approaches the helpless Naga with a smile so sweet it could be spun into cotton candy]

                Hey Naga, sweetie! Like my new blue mini-kilt and boots?

                Aw, I can’t hear you with that ball gag in your mouth. Look what I have for you! Some nice fried haggis!

                Now, if Naga is going to be a good boy I will pluck that ball right from the harness and give you a little something special.

                [gently waves fork-full of haggis under Naga’s nose]

                1. This is almost as good as Reasonpr0n.

            2. And pretty soon, when your parents hesitantly venture into the city to visit, they won’t be shocked by the novelty of this newfangled cuisine. And then it will cease being cool.

              1. Right, but that will take years. We are, after all, talking haggis.

            3. Don’t forget haggis festivals.

              1. And Scotchtoberfest!

                1. Ach, a great day indeed.

            4. “Um, we’d like two Nessie haggis rolls, as well as three Traditional rolls. Some sheep salad would be nice, too. Say, do you have anything to drink besides Scotch?”

              And from the display case they will pluck out the plastic covered stamped aluminum tray, right next to the pre-fab smoked salmon Philly roll trays with a little $3.99 label on the cover.


              1. Oh, please. Sure, the haggis bars run by Americans or Chinese will do things like that, but not the authentic ones.

            5. Look, I’m applying the same rules to haggis as I use for sushi. Buffet is not an appropriate serving method.

              1. True haggis fans will get their rolls freshly boiled by the haggis chef. A sign of authenticity–aside from the chef himself–is a corral of sheep outside the restaurant.

              2. Okay, I can support that. But haggis will NEVER surpass sushi!

                1. Not cooked haggis, no.

        2. They just opened a couple of those here in Chicago. I like how they’re not really sure if they’re Scottish-themed or Irish-themed.

          1. I think they’ll try to keep it ambivalent, to avoid alienating either group.

            1. Aren’t we all a bunch of intermingled mutts anyways? I myself am equal parts Scottish, Irish, and drunk.

              1. I think there’s some redundancy there.

              2. As far as I know, I have no Irish blood. Scottish, German, English, yes.

              3. I’m a mutt. Scottish, Spanish, and English.

                1. I thought you were a Ninga Cyst?

              4. Speak for yourself… I’m far more drunk than Scottish!

        3. I have one of those skirts in blue!

  10. Alton Brown’s recipe at:…..index.html

    “Serve with mashed potatoes, if you serve it at all.”

    1. Somewhere in my Urkobold link above is a haggis-making video to go along with Mr. Brown’s recipe.

      1. Is it like a sausage making video? Will your patrons be able to watch you make the haggis like sushi bars feature their chef?

        1. The video is embedded here. Good Eats at its best.

    2. good to know

  11. “and is bloody awful.”

    Shouldn’t that be, “and is bloody OFFAL.”.

  12. If we’re playing with homophones

    HAG ASS.

    1. Don’t offend the homophonics.

  13. Um, I grew up with frequent servings of scrapple.

  14. Any cuisine that will deep-fry pickled eggs is OK in my book.

    1. The Scots will deep fry and eat anything.

      1. We do that? I thought it was just a Southern thing. Huh. I’m still not gonna eat them but . . . huh.

        1. Lots of us Southerners have Scottish roots, which explains a few things, including bourbon and fried stuff.

          1. The Civil War was actually a war between the Scots-Irish south and the English north.

        2. Yea, Naga. Think we are just a bunch of Indians in pickup trucks? They even have Highland Games in one of those Virginias!

  15. SF, you forgot that they wrap them in sausage before they fry them. I can respect anyone crazy enough to do that. And my cardiologist would prefer I show my respect in ways other than eating the damn things.

    And there’s nothing wrong with scrapple, aside from the fact my wife makes snide comments when I’m preparing it.

    1. I was thinking more of the battered and fried egg, not the Scotch Egg.

      Both are delicious, of course. I think only the difficulty of sharing keeps the Scotch Egg from being the perfect bar food. The prize might have to go to basic fries in a general sense, although I’ve had one-off dishes better than fries.

      For example, The Bulldog in New Orleans takes the humble waffle fry and then covers it in wing sauce, chili, pickled jalapenos, and melted cheese. But they really aren’t super heavy, even for all that.

      1. Hmm. I tend to not worry about sharing, since I’m a selfish libertarian and all. I think a sharp knife and slices of Scotch Egg might be the solution. That would probably look nice plated up with a dipping sauce in the center.

        1. Rarebit would make a nice dipping sauce… cheddar and beer seem like nice complementary flavors.

          1. That’s a pretty common fondue recipe–some cheese and some beer. I had a nice smoked cheese one once made with beer.

          2. I think I have found my next party platter. Sliced Scotch egg with a beer cheese dipping sauce.

            1. Maybe poppers might be easier. Quail Scotch Eggs.

              1. Yeah, but how much would thousands of quail eggs cost?

                …yes, he’ll need a thousand+. they sound delicious, so I’d expect serious demand.

                1. 1,000s? How big a party was T planning to have?

                  1. 1000s? Hell, I barely know a dozen people I like enough to let inside my house. A couple of dozen quail egss should suffice.

                    1. Quail eggs are tiny. Order some on sushi and you will see.

  16. I grew up eating ground pig organs and cornmeal stewed in pig broth, then fried. You may know it as scrapple. Haggis intrigues me.

    1. Grew up on a sheep farm in southern NJ. When we slaughtered a lamb for ourselves we would sometimes swap the innards for veggies from a Scottish greengrocer at a local market. Never tasted his haggis though. The greeks would use the heart and liver (maybe the lungs, don’t remember) mixed with rice and cheese in the stuffing for a whole lamb. If we still had the farm, I’d probably give Hayward’s haggis a try.

  17. We have had to put up with the US version, which is made from beef and is bloody awful.

    Why didn’t US makers simply use American grown lamb lungs? This would have bypassed the “imported mad cow” issue. Or do Scots lambs have magical more flavorful lungs?

    1. American lambs are grown without lungs.

      Man, you are really dumb.

      1. Of course, everyone knows that. They have gills. How else could they be raised in underwater farms?

        People are so ignorant these days.

        1. And the gills would taste horrible in haggis. Or, for example, in an omelet.

          1. And there’s nothing–nothing–like a good haggis omelet. Of course, the real challenge with the haggis omelet is selecting the right cheese.

            1. It’s got to be Crowdie.

              Crowdie, a soft cheese also known as ‘gruth’ in Gaelic is the result of traditional methods dating back to Scotland’s Viking occupation. Coated in toasted pinhead oats and black pepper ‘Gruth Dhu’ also known as black crowdie is a nice twist on the traditional product. Caboc from Ross-shire in the western Highlands is made from cows’ milk, rolled into small logs and covered on a bed of toasted oats.

              1. Works for me. Sounds like a good appetizer for the old haggis bar, too. Maybe a haggis fondue?

                1. Fondue… haggis melted into cheese, haggis chunks dipped in cheese, or a cheese fondue served in a hollowed out haggis?

                  1. As long as there’s a chocolate haggis for dessert.

                    1. Or maybe a haggis fountain.

                    2. Scottish cheeses

                      I want some of this.

                      Bishop Kennedy: A ‘trappist’ cheese originating in the medieval monasteries of France but still relatively unknown in Scotland. Full fat soft cheese, rind washed in malt whisky to produce a distinctive orangey red crust and a strong creamy taste. Runny when ripe.

                  2. Both! That’s what competition is all about, right?

                    “Aye, Le Haggis has that haggis you dip in a cheese fondue, which is right bonnie, but Blue Highlander has a braw cheese fondue served in a gutted haggis. I dinna ken a better appetizer.”

          2. You both forgot about the elusive American Flying Land Lamb. They were the inspiration for some of the creatures in Avatar that breathe through a bellows system with “intake” vents in their chest.

            Unicorns stole all there thunder.

  18. Scotland intrigues me, and not just because of my incredibly Scottish last name. Scots apparently get to be drunk all the time, wear a pleated skirt, be really fat, and be applauded for throwing logs. What a country.

    1. Warty McGodfucker?

      1. No, and you’d be wise to stay away from the McGodfuckers. They’re Mormons.

        1. Agreed. Their magic underwear make them nigh on invincible.

          1. Nigerians Muslims share that with Mormons?

    2. Warty doesn’t sound Scottish to me?

      1. I don’t know. Does it or doesn’t it?

        1. You have to pronounce it right. Das Vartgaang.

  19. Well, the name aside . . . do you own a sword? And do you randomly feel a deep pull towards someone, also armed with a sword? Do you do battle and cut his/her head off to become stronger and more powerful? If not, then you aren’t Scottish.

    1. Naga, if you don’t eat your haggis you are never getting out of that chair, much less having any swordplay.

    2. A good point. All the crazed, sword-yearning men left Scotland long ago. If you feel the urge to gut an opponent and eat a hearty haggis afterward, you’re likely a Scot-Canadian, Australian, or American, not a native of Scotland. They banned swords there.

      1. All the crazed, sword-yearning men left Scotland long ago.

        It’s like national brain-drain, but sadder.

        1. Romance book cover model drain. So much sadder.

  20. Yum! Haggis with spooge.

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