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David Emery

Stalking the Wild Haggis

By November 30, 2003

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November 30 is St. Andrew's Day, a feast dedicated to Scotland's patron saint and an excuse to celebrate all things Scottish, including the sometime national dish of Scotland, haggis.

A sausage of sorts, haggis consists of minced "sheep's pluck" (heart, liver and lungs) combined with oatmeal, suet and spices and boiled for hours on end inside a sheep's stomach. Revered in its native land and even immortalized in a poem by 18th-century bard Robert Burns, "Address to a Haggis," the peculiar delicacy has never caught on outside Scotland, inspiring centuries of mirth instead.

One traditional joke, possibly instigated by the Scots themselves, has it that haggis is actually a type of wild beast hunted on the moors like grouse or rabbit. Many foreigners believe this, apparently. A recent poll found that one-third of Americans are convinced haggis is a creature; a fourth believe they'll be able to sign up for a haggis spotting expedition if they ever visit Scotland.

My advice to these credulous folks: stay closer to home and stick to more familiar prey — jackalope, for example; or snipe.

And best o' luck to ye, 'cause ye'll need it.


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