Monday, January 25, 2010

Accept no substitutes

Since I knew Burns Night was approaching, I bought a frozen, US-produced haggis that represented the closest I could get to the original article.  I hadn't really thought about this beforehand, but the mushroom barley soup I made yesterday makes for a reasonable approximation of scotch broth, and I am fortunate enough to have some scotch whisky on hand.  So I heated up some soup, I carefully defrosted the haggis, I fired up my recording of "Is there for honest poverty," I poured myself a nice tot with a splash of water, and I had myself a one-man Burns Supper while reviewing job application materials.

Verdict on the haggis: BLECH.  Surely this is not the "warm-reekin', rich" flavor that Burns contrasted with other "skinking ware!"  It tastes like old liverwurst mixed with sawdust.  I know that several of the key traditional ingredients are unavailable in the US -- namely, the minced sheep heart and lungs, and the sheep stomach serving as sausage casing -- but I didn't imagine that they would be so sorely missed by one who has never tasted them.  As I gather, the sheep offal that the US has banned for twenty-one years is replaced in the US-made attempted haggis with beef liver.  This turns out to be an extremely bad idea.  I'm just aghast that homesick Scots expatriates here have had to make do with this trash.  I'm never buying this ersatz nonsense again.

At least, as I read today, the ban on these ingredients is to be lifted soon, and everyone on this side of the pond will be able to purchase the same stuff that (non-vegetarian) Scots have been enjoying for many years.  Money quote:
"It was a silly ban which meant a lot of people have never tasted the real thing," said Margaret Frost, of the Scottish American Society in Ohio. "We have had to put up with the US version, which is made from beef and is bloody awful."
NB: She's not fucking kidding.

1 comment:

  1. No, haggis is just disgusting. My Scottish grandmother made one in my mother's house when I was little (using authentic parts provided by a local, evidently unscrupulous, butcher). The stench endured in the house for days. Any food that smells like digestion is not a food for me.