A Wee Haggis Tale

Once upon a time, in a magical, faraway land called Scotland, there lived a wee creature called Haggis Scoticus Putidus, although the local people just called it Haggis.  As the Haggis was rather unpleasant looking, most of the time it was left in peace, but there were some that considered it to be a delicacy and hunted the Haggis.

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(Although, I’m no sure why anyone would want to eat a haggis…doesna look very appetizing to me, ye ken.  But what do I know…I eat grass.)  

Haggis

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One day in January, Haggis decided he wanted to visit Edinburgh to see the great Scottish poet he had heard aboot called Robert Burns, who would be reciting his new poem “Address Tae A Haggis.”  He had always wanted adventure and wished more than anything to be famous, just like Bilbo Baggins (even though he was a Haggis, no a Hobbit). The only problem was that he was scairt of the hunters.  He remembered when he was a wee bairn, his maither had disguised he and his wee haglet siblings in such a fashion that no one would eat them!

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(even coos dinna like brussel sprouts)

So he decided that going out incognito would be the safest thing to do. He tried on several different costumes, to see which might be best for traveling without attracting too much attention:

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This one was too hairy…

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This one was too scary…

But the next one….that one was just right!

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(Of course he would go disguised as a wee coo…why wouldn’t ye?)

So Haggis began his journey.

journey

First he went to Inverness, then to Aberdeen, then to Dundee, then to Stirling, until at at long last, he arrived in Edinburgh!!

But how would he get into the theater to hear the great Mr. Burns?  The bouncer took one look at him and said such wee creatures were not welcome.

Poor Haggis was so distraught that he sat in an alley and cried. Poor Haggis!

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As it happens, Mr. Butcher happened to be passing by at just that moment.  He wasna fooled by the wee Haggis’ disguise, but kept that information to himself.

“Why, whatever is the matter, sir?” asked the Butcher

“I traveled all the way from the highlands to see Rabbie Burns, but they willna let “my kind” in,” he sobbed.

“Perhaps, I can help ye there. Come with me to my shoppe and I’ll help ye gain entry.”

“You will??? Oh thank you!” (Haggis would have hugged him but he had no arms, ye ken. It was no a good idea anyway…when people tried to squeeze HIM, things tended to ooze out). In the back of his wee mind, he could hear his maither warning him not to go with strangers, but he so wanted to hear the magical poetry about the haggis!

So off he went with Mr. Butcher to his shoppe.  When they got inside, Mr. Butcher pulled out a large silver platter.

“Here, lad, I can nestle ye here on this platter among the neeps and tatties.  Ye’ll be carried in right under their nebs and no one will be the wiser!

Haggis was verra happy as they carried him in out onto the stage and put him down right in from of Robert Burns himself!  Suddenly, the pipes began to play!

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Here’s the transcript of the poem and a wee translation, if yer interested or plan to attend a Burns Supper ever in yer life:

Address to a Haggis by Robert Burns

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

 Translation

Fair and full is your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm steaming, rich!

Then spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
Till all their well swollen bellies by-and-by
Are bent like drums;
Then old head of the table, most like to burst,
‘The grace!’ hums.

Is there that over his French ragout,
Or olio that would sicken a sow,
Or fricassee would make her vomit
With perfect disgust,
Looks down with sneering, scornful view
On such a dinner?

Poor devil! see him over his trash,
As feeble as a withered rush,
His thin legs a good whip-lash,
His fist a nut;
Through bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his ample fist a blade,
He’ll make it whistle;
And legs, and arms, and heads will cut off
Like the heads of thistles.

You powers, who make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery stuff,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But if you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her [Scotland] a Haggis!

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And so wee Haggis was consumed by Rabbie Burns and became a part of Scottish history.  The moral of this tale?  Be careful what ye wish for…and if you’re made of a meat product, don’t trust anyone named Butcher.

If ye care to try and make a wee Haggis, here is a traditional recipe-with wee coo commentary- (and if ye can get through it without vomitin’ yer guts out, ye automatically become a Scottish citizen. It’s the law):

Ingredients:

Set of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver (cleaned by Mr. Butcher) (Sounds delicious so far…NOT)

One beef bung (aye…it’s what ye think it is…I canna believe what these daft humans use my wee arsehole for!…I need to sit down…hmmmmphmm)

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3 cups finely chopped suet (raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys…OCH…I dinna know aboot other coos, but I dinna hae any “hard fat” around my luscious loins!)

One cup medium ground oatmeal

Two medium onions, finely chopped

One cup beef stock (JHRC..what is with the beef ingredients!)

One teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

One teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon mace

Preparation Method:

Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the sheep’s intestine and, if present, discard the windpipe (windpipe?? Ew). Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or possibly longer to ensure that they are all tender (at this point, yer kitchen should smell like a tannery. If yer entire family hasna moved out, yer not makin’ it right). Drain and cool.

Some chefs toast the oatmeal in an oven until it is thoroughly dried out (but not browned or burnt!) (Like that would make it worse) 

Finely chop the meat and combine in a large bowl with the suet, oatmeal, finely chopped onions, beef stock, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mace. Make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Stuff the meat and spices mixture into the beef bung which should be over half full (Being careful to control yer gag reflex) Then press out the air and tie the open ends tightly with string. Make sure that you leave room for the mixture to expand or else it may burst while cooking (and if THAT happens, ye’ll hae a fine wee mess on yer hands, with burst sheep offal and coo arsehole all over yer lovely kitchen!). If it looks as though it may do that, prick with a sharp needle to reduce the pressure. (um…oww)

Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for three hours. Avoid boiling vigorously to avoid bursting the skin (I repeat, so as not to hae burst sheep offal and coo arsehole all over yer wee kitchen)

Serve hot with “champit tatties and bashit neeps” (mashed/creamed potato and turnip/swede). For added flavour, you can add some nutmeg to the potatoes and allspice to the turnip/swede. Some people like to pour a little whisky over their haggis – Drambuie is even better! Don’t go overboard on this or you’ll make the haggis cold (Aye, and I’m sure it bein’ cold would “ruin it”…seems ta me the more whisky ye drown the shite in, the better!). At Burns Suppers, the haggis is traditionally piped in and Burns’ “Address to the Haggis” recited over it, as ye saw earlier in the Tale.

And They All Lived Happily E’er After

(except wee Haggis, the sheep and the coo)

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9 thoughts on “A Wee Haggis Tale

  1. I’m so very glad I did not read this while eating. (Although I did love when the cow said it looked like an autopsy). However my dear friend, I am worried for your sanity…

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  2. Thanks for your verra informative and entertaining history of this wee Haggis. With much respect to the great bard, Rabbie Burns, I must in sympathy for all the Haggis everywhere (and not because I’m a vegetarian, thank goodness, because if I wasn’t before I would be after reading this) vow to never indulge in this delicacy of innards. Hail to the sheep and Coos!

    Liked by 1 person

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