January 25 will be Burns Night, and if you’re Scottish, you’ll know what that’s about. I’ll share this snippet about a time I went to Scotland and bumped into something done on this day, and how Burns is related to it. Recently, I went to Scotland, in the areas that where nowhere close to Edinburgh, rather the opposite side of the country and inland, and I was hungry most of the time, due to the time change and my body not adjusting to the time change. Took a few days for my eating time to adjust but I was so hungry all of the time, except for night time there, because it was like lunch-breakfast time and that was too early to eat back in USA. I’d go to sleep, and then when I woke up in the morning, that would be more than 18 hours where I wouldn’t have eaten, all because I didn’t want to eat dinner, the night before, on Scottish time. Every breakfast, I was starving, for the first couple of days. So, my eating was really off. To make it worse, I was eating very bland included continental breakfasts at the major hotels I was in, which was great, typical breakfasts of eggs, Canadian bacon, beans (weird) and potato wedge thingie. I ate it to much after my appetite came back, I start to skip breakfast again, because I didn’t have variation anywhere, for free, and by the time I was up, there was nothing open at 5am- I couldn’t sleep either as I had to try to adjust. I’ll you what was not off – my ability to absorb all the SCOTCH I was drinking, in just about in any placed I went to, and was drinking before eating due to the misalignment of my eating windows. That was dumb, clearly, but the places to eat were few and far between during a lot of the trips, and some placed didn’t bounce back after Covid. Also, I couldn’t find a steak anywhere, or like a place with a decent burger. I had some dry burgers in 2 different places prior, and the meat selections were terrible to me in these places in UK. What I ended up doing was getting Guinness beef stews everywhere, because at least I could have beef that was not dry, when I wanted meals with beef. I was just sharing experiences with someone who recently came back from Scotland, and she didn’t know of the national dish, and did not bother to learn what that was. I shared with her this story, which I learned in a very funny way that the national disk of Scotland was, something called Haggis- which I thought was just some spice on potato chips, like mesquite flavor. You want to know how ‘WAY OUT’ I was? I was where the livestock freely roam in the land everyone can travel (although they’re owned by someone).
When I got to the next hotel, I dumped my luggage in the room and immediately went to town, looking for the chips. No stores had these chips! Dammit. Bummed, I went back to the hotel and waited for dinner time- we were kinda way way out, in a really small town. I go to order my meal and I see something on the menu called “Haggis Pakora”! That’s got to be Haggis. That had to be good, it had Pakora in the name, that an Indian work in food, so it’s like something fried, right? So a weird spice like Haggis, that definitely was something that goes well with Indian food, and this had a curry dip that went with hit. OMG I was AMAZING! I was so hungry for it I was going to ask for another one. Funny thing, I was the only person who ate it, out of the group. I looked up and this lady was looking at me strange, I figured, they just don’t have a taste for Indian food, but I saw a lay scrunch up her face at my meal. I demolished these Haggis, which was fried dough, and you dip it in the curry. Crazy! After I had that, then I went all over now looking for the Haggis chips and Haggis Pakora. Lol I couldn’t find EITHER anywhere after that hotel stop. I mean they didn’t even have it in the Indian restaurant in Scotland, and I did go looking for it in the Indian stores I spotted after. Nothing. The next day, I got up on the morning and was starving for Haggis. Instead, I had a standard Scottish highland breakfast of with Canadian bacon, eggs, a tortilla looking potato cake,… and BEANS- for breakfast. Lol I was so gassy the whole morning due to eating beans in the morning. That was really weird on my body at 7am in the morning, but when in Scotland, do as the locals.
By the time dinner came, we were going to a local Inn that had entertainment and food. I didn’t know what the food lines up was going to be, so I asked for the menu. The place prepared a special meal because we were guests of the owner, and when I get the menu, I immediately saw on the menu, Haggis. I didn’t care what form it came in, I just saw Haggis and told them to let me have it! I devoured it. However, this one was a little stronger, and it came in a mini-cake form, so they put hat flavor in many different forms, apparently. I tore that up, and a friend took a sample, didn’t like it, and gave me the other one she didn’t want. After the show here, with some local artists, the host came out with some that was smelling amazing and smelled like … HAGGIS. Sure enough, he had some of this Haggis stuff in a container like you guy deli meat in a store. Ah man, this was amazing. He had opened the wrapper of the haggis and the smell overtook the whole room. And they went around asking people if they wanted to have some, but people didn’t want it. I told them to come over and dump that stuff on my plate. And then I saw another looking stupid at me while I ate the haggis.
One day, I went to a breakfast spot and the line was just too long, every other place was like 20 minutes wait and I figured I could go long enough to make it to a known town with food. This was because everyone else couldn’t get anything to eat if they were out and about in some of those remote places either, so they all piled into the tiny tourist town. I decided to take some chips from a small shop, and I saw these two interesting looking chips with some flavors that looked really interesting. One of those had a label reading “Haggis” on it, with black pepper. I didn’t know what that haggis seasoning was, figured it was something UK-ish, but it’s just seasoning I figured, so it couldn’t be all that bad, it’s potato chips. I was outside the store, waiting for a buddy, and I began to eat the chips, and MAN, they tasted better than any chips I ever ate before, even better than mesquite flavored chips! Before I could finish the bag, I went back in the store and bought 2 more of the Haggis chips, for the road, because I didn’t know if I could find them again in another location. No more than 30 minutes later, I ate the other two bags of Haggis chips! 🤷🏽♂️Whatever the hell this Haggis spice was, I was thinking, it was AMAZING! It was so addictive. I ate the other bag of chips that was not Haggis flavor, and while they were good, they couldn’t compare to those Haggis chips. When I got to Fort William, I couldn’t find those chips. Someone with me told me that I could get haggis in restaurants, so I tried to find them and couldn’t find a damn thing that served Haggis anything. It was another tourist town for food, in the west, and all they had were things for people who wouldn’t be looking for anything Scottish to eat (tourists). I really did go to multiple stores looking for these Haggis chips. I asked someone in 1 store if there was another place selling Haggis chips and the guy said they were out, someone else bought them all for their kids. Dammit. I grabbed some Indian food and continued on to the hotel. It was good Indian food, surprisingly enough, but I wanted my damn chips. I was little disappointed, and continued out my journey east.
By the end of the tour, I got to Edinburgh, I found many places that had the chips, so I bought many of them and stuffed them in my suitcase carefully, to make sure that bags didn’t pop. I was out seeing the Edinburgh castle and I walked by a hole in the wall spot that had an advert for haggis in everything. I stopped there and got a breakfast sandwich with some haggis, and I was happy for the whole day. The next night, I had a presentation to go to and figured that I was a on a winning streak as I approached Edinburgh on my way from west to east. I was on a roll as I headed east! Sure enough, after an amazing show the day before in the middle out nowhere Scotland, and this night show, just like in my previous place I ate the day before, these entertainers brought out haggis and started cutting open the containers with the haggis in them. This time, the guy came with antlers on the side of the his plate, when presenting the haggis to cut in front of people. Now this was the second time someone made a show out of serving haggis. Now, it looked kind of strange to me that two times in a row, there was a show around this haggis stuff. Something was up. It was just spice, how are these people going to crazy over this? This time though, there were a bunch of Europeans in this venue, so these people were all eating the Haggis. I had been moving with only Americans everywhere I had been up until then and most of them don’t eat anything with spices. Americans eat bland, unappealing food mostly. In this place, they were killing that haggis being served! After the meal, one of the American came up to me and said “I just wanted to tell you, I find that stuff gross and I don’t know why you kept eating it”. It was a complaint against me, and I didn’t even know her like that, but why she felt like telling me this?
I just let her know that I like to eat the food of locals when I got places and it’s just good spices so what’s the big deal. I told her maybe she only likes plants and bland chicken or something, but that haggis, that’s to die for. She laughed at me and said “you’re doing to die alright. I bet it was you farting at dinner too”. She was being really rude. I asked “why are you talking like that? We had presentation with this stuff, it’s everywhere in stored here, all these other people ate too, clearly…”. Now she was a big lady, so I was surprised she didn’t eat it, but I didn’t say that of course, so I asked what her deal was. She told me, “it’s disgusting. Why would you eat sheep hearts?? And other disgusting insides? “I was like “huh? WTF? Haggis is a seasoning” 🤔 I thought she was playing around, because it doesn’t look like anything she said in any of the forms I ate it. She explained to me even the way the Indian version can be samosas and people will eat it, or people will make Haggis quesadillas, spring rolls, lasagna, cakes- I ate the cake already. I had to go double check that and went to find out the story of it, and sure enough, to make traditional haggis, as I was eating it, means that one is eating pieces of a sheep’s stomach that is filled tight with the sheep’s lungs, liver, heart combined with OATMEAT, onions, spices (that’s what got me), and something called “SUET” mixed together, soaked in stock, stuffed in the sheep’s stomach lining, and boiled until the stomach lining of that sheep expands like a balloon. Then I looked up suet, and found that’s the fat, white part of the sheep from its kidney and/or heart. yeaaaaah can’t be complete with that, right? Uhhh 😒That’s NUTS!!!! But it tasted soooooo good everywhere I had it in all of the forms that I had it at. I realized then why all the ladies kept looking at me like I was crazy eating this stuff everywhere. At least I kept some gum with me everywhere. 🤣
Haggis is the national dish, it turned out, in Scotland- it’s the thing to do! When in Rome… Much like lobsters in the past, haggis was once considered poor people’s food, and giving its contents, I can see that. English people used to use it in negative stereotypes of Scots. Famed poet Robert Burns made a poem about haggis and after that, it became synonymous with hard, working class Scots, who turned eating haggis into a point of pride for them. After this point, it became the national dish and along with it, it’s cared on a silver platter, with a mini show, pipers are playing in the background while the stomach is being cut up to get to the contents. That explained why I saw the celebrations in the places where I saw someone cut it up with a special, ceremonial blade, and why there was such a deal about the presentation before serving the haggis up! This was cool to be a part of this and to witness this. This all goes back to celebration of Robert Burns and today, people still celebrate Burns Night, or a Burns Supper, on January 25th, where they do all of this that I spoked up and eat that haggis. You can’t do a Burns Supper without Haggis, so, when I returned to the USA, I went on a search to see if I could find haggis to eat. Surely, if you live in a big city like NYC, you can find haggis anywhere in NY. We have every culinary experience you can think of in the world. I searched Google/Google maps and found ZERO! WTF! That was not possible. By accident, I stumbled on an article complaining about Burns Night. People were complaining (typical Americans) that they can’t celebrate Burns Night in the USA. That sounded dumb, initially, like why can’t they celebrate anything they want, it’s not illegal to celebrate Burns Night- you can’t get a holiday out of it, but you can celebrate whenever you want in the USA. Upon further inspection, I found out that NOBODY can have haggis, in the USA, because our US Department of Agriculture found out that haggis contained sheep’s lungs and they went berserk over haggis, in 1971. HAGGIS IS BANNED IN THE USA and has been since the discovery in 1971.
It is illegal to import the key sheep component that are used to make haggis authentic- meanwhile, you are supposed to go to your supermarket and at fish that is dyed with food coloring to be pink, bred in a bacteria filed, steroid and antibiotics pool of water, imported from some disgusting fish farm in China- that’s perfectly legal. It’s also banned in Canada, also in 1971, same reason, the lungs. Yeaaah. Or if it is allowed, you can likely hide it in pet food, but not human. But as the ban says, it’s the lungs the government really won’t play with. I did find some strange sights that will sell you haggis in a can, but they will not include the lungs. Is it true haggis then? Well if you want to try this you have to hop on Amazon, they have it. Oh, and those chips I was eating in Scotland, with the Haggis? You know how much they cost to buy? You can get those chips in the USA for the low, low price of $60. Yes I did it, SHUT UP, stop asking me silly questions. LOL Haggis may one day be allowed to be imported, because your uncle, Joe Biden, has allowed all sorts of lamb parts to be imported to the USA, which was banned for 3 decades before. Anything can happen at this point.
Oh, here is the other weirdo thing that I did, in Ireland and Scotland. I woke up every morning and didn’t want to eat big breakfasts. Instead, I eat what I though was sesame cakes, because they were next to the breaded things. It was little, circular objects. I asked what they were, the servers at breakfast said they were really good. The guy said it’s black pudding. It didn’t taste like pudding. He said it was sliced sausage infused with cereal so it’s like a full meal in 1 slice because it has all the dietary needs you want, but in 1 treat. That’s exactly what I wanted, since I’m not a breakfast eater, normally. I ate it every day. And a companion to it was this thing they called the white pudding. Neither of them was white nor black so I didn’t get the naming, but whatever, they tasted great. After this whole haggis thing, I went to go look these things up to see what they were made of… uhhhh oh my that black pudding is nicknamed BLOOD PUDDING! How do you make it? You use THE ACTUAL BLOOD of a pig or a cow, some pig/cow livers, throw in that suet again from a cow or pig, throw in some cereal/oatmeal, some barley/oats, and spices. The White Pudding is the same but without any blood in it. The Black pudding though, or Blood pudding… ewwww wow, I ate that, for real. And then I had to think back, I was eating these things every day in Novascotia and Newfoundland!!!! I didn’t know what these were, I just knew they tasted amazing. As I think back, I realized that nobody wanted to eat the black or white puddings either, or if they did, I saw them eat the white pudding. I won’t lie though, they were really good, that’s what gets you! The funny thing, is that lady who was let me finally know what Haggis really was, I saw her eating frankfurters and sausages during our times in the same circles. I later let her know that what she was eating in those were not that damn far off what I was eating, actually, at least with Haggis, you at least know what’s goes into making it, which is more that one can say for franks and sausages.
As always, the finished products can be found on the main site of www.drunkphotography.com