Skip to main content

Haggis

If you mention to anyone, at all, that you're going to visit Scotland, you're bound to be warned about Scotland's national dish; haggis. Haggis is, according to the AHD “A Scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal, and seasonings and boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal.” The closest thing I can compare with haggis to in terms of standard American dishes is stuffing, made with giblets.

People tend to think of haggis around the 25th of January, the date reserved to celebrate the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns. All over the world Scots are celebrating Burns Night with a meal that includes toasts to Burns, his poetry, a ceremonial presentation of the haggis, and naturally, a reading of Burns' poem “Address to a Haggis.”

Haggis was not always thought of as a Scottish dish; indeed it was quite popular in the Middle Ages as this English haggis recipe from c. 1430 implies.

Etymologically, the ancestry of haggis is French; The Random House Dictionary, unlike the OED or AHD, properly attributes English haggis to Anglo-Norman French, via late Middle English (c. 1375–1425) hageys, from Anglo-Norman French *hageis, the equivalent of the verb hag-, the root of haguer, to chop, hash. They then follow haguer back to Middle Dutch hacken "to hack," with the addition of the -eis noun suffix frequently used for cookery terms. Language blogger Language Hat beat Random House to the chase to point out in this entry that there are several clear cognates in Anglo-Norman French.

Should you be so inclined, you can make your own haggis following Alton Brown's recipe. Haggis is often served with neeps and tatties, or turnips and potatoes, as in the image above. Alternatively, the less intrepid can order their haggis in a can here.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Red Letter Day

"It's a great piece of luck, ma'am," said Mrs Belfield, "that you should happen to come here, of a holiday! If my son had not been at home, I should have been ready to cry for a week: and you might come any day the year through but a Sunday, and not meet with him any more than if he had never a home to come to."
"If Mr Belfield's home-visits are so periodical," said Cecilia, "it must be rather less, than more, difficult to meet with him."
"Why you know, ma'am," answered Mrs Belfield, "to-day is a red-letter day, so that's the reason of it."
"A red-letter day?"
"Good lack, madam, why have not you heard that my son is turned book- keeper?"
Fanny Burney. Cecilia: Or, Memoirs of an Heiress. "Red-letter day" is one of those expressions we use quite frequently without really thinking about its ancestry. Everyone knows that a "red letter day" is one that stands out as imp…

Soul Cake and Souling

Soul, soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him what made us all!
Soul cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, anything good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, one for Paul, and three for Him who made us all.All Souls' Day is one of the feast days of the Roman Catholic Church. All Souls is observed on November 2. Special prayers are offered for the deceased souls in Purgatory, believed to be waiting. All Souls follows All Saints Day on November 1, the day on which the saints in heaven are commemorated under the assumption that the souls languishing in purgatory should also be remembered and prayed for. All Souls' was established initially by Abbot Odilo of Cluny (d. 1049). All Souls' was widely celebrated by the 13th century. All Souls' is also known as Soulmas Day or Saumas.Prior to the Protestant Reformation, it was common in England and the British I…

Humor

humor noun
The quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness: could not see the humor of the situation.That which is intended to induce laughter or amusement: a writer skilled at crafting humor.The ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is amusing, comical, incongruous, or absurd. See Synonyms at wit1.One of the four fluids of the body, blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile, whose relative proportions were thought in ancient and medieval physiology to determine a person's disposition and general health.That's not the complete definition from the American Heritage Dictionary, but it's enough for now. Modern English humor derives from Middle English, where humor largely referred to a bodily fluid; Middle English borrowed Old French umor, which is largely a borrowing from from Latin ūmor, hūmor, meaning "fluid." In earlier eras, our bodies were thought to be affected by the balance of four humors or fluids; blood, bile, phlegm and choler. These f…