[Sca-cooks] Haggis, Updated: Less Offal, Tastes Great

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu Jan 25 12:33:49 PST 2007

On Jan 25, 2007, at 2:17 PM, Adele de Maisieres wrote:

> Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:
>> Uh, no, actually. I didn't get that sense at all. Mostly it's about
>> how haggis has changed, and why. It does include some opinions from
>> various people about how some version are considered nasty and what
>> people have done to change that impression, and it also covers
>> American variants based on difficulty in obtaining things like lungs.
>> But none of it is expressed as value judgement on the part of the
>> author of the article or the paper.
> No, indeed, it's not expressed as a value judgement on the part of the
> author.  But the article is pretty well focused on how various people
> make haggis with very little of the traditional ingredients.

Actually, one of the people quoted specifically mentions that the  
"traditional" ingredients are somewhat fluid, and if you look at non- 
Hieland recipes, or any from outside the window of the Highlands of  
the 18th and 19th centuries, these may appear non-traditional in many  
respects (for example, do they call for suet or not, or what spices  
do they use in addition to black pepper -- mine uses pepper only, and  
invariably gets raves).

I think the thrust of the article is about how haggis has changed,  
and also how some people are reacting to the change -- both those  
shocked at the break with tradition, and those pointing out that  
"traditional" is a pretty tight and not-always-traditional window.  
For a similar effect talk to me about chowders sometime.

>   And there
> are some weird statements about the taste (like liver pate,  
> according to
> one commenter) and about haggis being an acquired taste.

Not from the author. He's a reporter, not an evangelist. I don't see  
this as being either part of the solution or part of the problem.  
Rather, it acknowledges a problem, explores some possible reasons for  
the problem, and explains what some people are doing about it.

As with the guy from Cameron's in Kearney (whose product I buy once a  
year and find, if not as good as homemade, adequate), I can't get  
sheep lungs, so I have to improvise. I find a small amount of pork  
spleens (Italian and Chinese butchers, as well as serious French  
butchers, sell these, sometimes calling them "milts") makes a good  
substitute to give greater dimension than you'd get by simply  
omitting the lungs.

>   And the author
> _does_ lard the article with comments about haggis's "august  
> reputation
> for repulsiveness" and the like.

See above. This is not the same as active criticism, and, unfortunate  
though it may be, and as much as we'd like to change it, haggis  
_does_ have a pretty bad reputation in many parts of the world. I'm  
glad to have made the converts I have.

>  Now for a few remarks based on my personal experience:
> Good haggis, well-made with the traditional ingredients is delicious.
> It tastes nothing like pate-- if anything, it's a bit like a meatloaf
> with a coarse, crumbly texture.

I aim for a texture somewhere between a moist pilaf and a hash, myself.

>   Many people who try it like it
> immediately, and, conversely, it mainly has a bad reputation amongst
> people who have never tried it.

Not unlike garum and the films of Kevin Smith in that respect. No  
argument there, and I don't think the author of the article would say  
otherwise, either.


"S'ils n'ont pas de pain, vous fait-on dire, qu'ils  mangent de la  
brioche!" / "If there's no bread to be had, one has to say, let them  
eat cake!"
     -- attributed to an unnamed noblewoman by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  
"Confessions", 1782

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
     -- Susan Sheybani, assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry  
Holt, 07/29/04

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