The Offal Truth

This post was imported from my short-lived, now-defunct food blog, Cooking With Ginger.

January 25 is Burns Night, where Scots eat haggis, drink whisky and recite the poetry of Robert Burns to celebrate his birthday.

I've never been to a proper Burns Supper but it does sound good, particularly The Entrance of the Haggis. Everyone stands up and gazes in awe as the mighty bag o' guts and spices is carried into the room on a platter, complete with bagpipe fanfare. Then the host recites the Address To A Haggis: 

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 wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

Which roughly translates as: Oh haggis, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey haggis! 

After the poem goes on a few more verses, the haggis is STABBED repeatedly with a juicy big knife and everyone cheers. Hail to the haggis! Then someone proposes a whisky toast to the haggis and finally everyone tucks into a nice plateful of it, accompanied by neeps (turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes). After that there's more speeches, toasts, poetry and whisky. Sounds like a great night out. 
For foreigners living in Scotland, eating haggis is right up there on your To Do list with Edinburgh Castle and the Highlands. I was surprised to find I enjoyed it – sure it's offal but the spices and oatmeal give it a beautiful flavour and texture. I'm not sure if I'd ever want to make it myself though:

the horror

You have to love any recipe that contains the phrases, "wash the paunch", "boil the heart", "hang the windpipe" and "grate the liver". I was fresh out of lungs tonight, so we had the ever-tasty Macsweens Vegetarian Haggis. It has the same yummy spices as the traditional version, but the offal is replaced by lentils and nuts. You simply wrap it in foil, place in a water bath then whack it in the oven for an hour or so. 


Next you prepare the traditional neeps and tatties. And if you're immature, do take time to snigger at your neep if it looks particularly nippy! 

nippy neeps!

Then take the haggis oot of the oven and stab it. KILL KILL KILL! 


This is the part in food blogs where ones posts a photo of the plated meal. But since this is my first food blog entry and I am a food blog amateur, I forgot to do that and just scoffed it straight up. After that starch-and-lentil fest, all we can do is slump on the couch and toast Mr Burns with almighty belches.

26 thoughts on “The Offal Truth

  1. I am relieved to know that vegetarian haggis exists. Not becuase I’m a vegetarian, but because the real thing sounds like it would be even too much for my “I’m willing to try everything” appetite.

  2. So glad that turned into a veggie haggis-a-thon as the first three paragraphs were concerning, if a little obscure (I really dont think you can ever get the whole haggis-made-of-guts thing unless you are either Scottish, living in Scotland or trying to graciously do business with a Scottish person around the time of Burn’s Night).

    I think those ingredients even beat the classic Romanian ‘Dracula Grill’!

  3. Not quite what I imagined when you said you wanted to start a food blog! : P Just kidding…I’ve been a vegetarian for 21 years and this is the first time I’ve head of vegetarian haggis — you’re an original, m’dear! : )

  4. Way to go, DG. I love your new blog! I have just recently found your DG blog and read the whole thing. I totally get you wanting different blogs for different interests. That’s more my inclination too. Your writing style on this new blog is just as engaging and entertaining as the others and I love the title and the pic. So kudos to you. I think you’ll get a lot of pleasure out of this. Oh, and you actually made vegetarian haggis sound yum. Original haggis – think it’s too scary for me to ever go there!

  5. Well, I’m obviously not a Real Scot because I’ve had original haggis (many years ago) and I’ve had the veggie version and… meh. I like neeps, though.

    Your header picture thing (tech. term?) is ace!

  6. Hi Shauna – I cooked mini haggis pies for Burns’ Supper and loved them. I usually go for the veggie version (and yes, it always has to be MacSween’s), but this time used the traditional one for extra authenticity:)
    Good luck with your new food blog!

  7. Oh Shauna, you might have a problem. I just subscribed to “Cooking with Ginger” through Bloglines and it is showing three entries, the one above and two others (“this could be an entry” and “another text entry”). Eek! I don’t know how you could fix it, but I thought you might want to know.

    Good Luck,
    P.S. – I am an avid reader of all your blogs (very often a lurker) and I am very interested in this latest addition.

  8. I need this blog badly! I’m just starting and have no clue how to cook in a healthy way. You are such an inspiration! Thanks!

  9. Lovely place you’ve got here. Sadly, because I’m a “non-cooker”, I probably won’t be a regular, but I’ll definitely pop by whenever I have a meal to prepare!!! 🙂

  10. Yay, a food blog from Shauna! Not only can’t I wait to see what you cook up, but I firmly believe the world needs as much of your wonderful writing as it can get. And kudos on focusing on the healthy stuff, god knows I can use it. This foodblogging business is to blame for more than a couple extra love handles in our house!

  11. Oh. My. God.

    I am in PAIN here at “oh haggis you’re so fine”.

    That’s so exactly it!

    My husband took his leftover haggis in to work the day after Burns Night and was really disappointed that there was nobody around to gross out by telling them what he was eating.

  12. Oh my, thanks to your “About” I read your post regarding the chocolate wrappers, REMARKABLE POST!! 😀 ‘Cause, we all DO LOVE chocolate 😛

    As a Finn I have to defend Käck´s honour since I find it extremely delicious even tho I rarely eat it. It’s not salty but smooth and sweet and the texture´s purrfect. Now I started to feel I have to get one…

    IMHO the pearls of Finnish chocolate industry include Fazer´s Pätkis (mint truffle sort of piece!) and Da Capo (a hint of rum). So for your future trips to the edges of Scandinavia… Something to drool about :-P~~~

    Launching your food blog makes me a happy bunny, so see you OFTEN!


  13. Love the new blog! And must admit I’m particularly pleased that you went with ‘Ginger’! Can’t wait for more adventures.

  14. thanks everyone! you rule!

    La – I think those were my old test entries – I’ve deleted them from the site but they still published to the site feed. luckily it was just dummy text in them and not anything embarassing… hehe 🙂

  15. Good stuff, shauny. We have like 3 frozen haggi in the freezer (and we live in california!). My SC is stockpiling them for some Burns Night in the future, during which I’ll be sure to say “oh, haggis, you’re so fine…” I shared your entry with him and he’s starting to understand why I mention your blog(s) all the time.

  16. Oh I stand, so, so corrected. A food blog is a fab idea. I didn’t even know the food blog existed, but then again Dinasours still roam freely in my backyard.

    All hail Ginger.

  17. Hey Shauny, how about an entry on the humble vegemite. You could start off with mum’s all time favourite – Vegemite soup.


  18. I just love your “logo” darling!!!Love it love it love it!!!!

    I would give the real haggis a go you know. We greekies cook hearts and livers too…we even wrap them up with intestines and grill them in a stick for easter! Along with the whole lamb…lol

    Now gimme more shauny cooking pleaseeeeeeeee

  19. welcome to food blogging world! fab isnt it? im so happy you post a million photos, im a visually stimulated kinda gal 😉 too funny, love this haggis post.

  20. All hail Ginger! Fab first entry. My head nearly exploded from laughing at “oh, haggis, you’re so fine!”

    No pressure, though.

  21. You are making this up, right? Although it does explain a lot–there’s a local band here called Enter the Haggis; never knew what that meant.

    So glad to see Cooking with Ginger, I wish you much success with it!

  22. Hey – love the new food blog!! Love the lamingtons – I had a friend at school who made the perfect ones without any smudges or gunky bits and I have no idea how she did it. It wasn’t bad enough that she was only 15 years old, but she was also Chinese!!
    Anyway, I tried haggis in Scotland and I LOVED IT!! Tasted just like spicy hamburger mince. Yummmy! Would love to have it again. Mmm – haggis on buttery toast…mmmm.

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