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."