Whenever I visit a new place, I love to immediately immerse myself in the culture, people and food. Since food tells so much about a country or region, I believe it is important to try most things at least once and that includes Haggis which is a food staple in Scotland.
Haggis. If you have never heard of Haggis, now is a good time to Google it. Haggis is such a part of the culture here that it’s on every menu in restaurants served either by itself or used as a topping or stuffing in other dishes.
During my first breakfast in Scotland I went for the gusto and tried haggis to find out why it is so desired. If you didn’t Google it yet, I will go ahead and tell you that haggis, while prepared in different ways is a minced mixture of the heart, liver and lungs of sheep cooked with onion, spices and stock. It is typically encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for hours. It is also be served in minced form as a side dish like I had at breakfast.
Since Scotland has such a rural history and the people often struggled for basic means years ago, I wonder if haggis was born out of necessity. It may have developed from the need to use every part of the livestock for food just to survive. Somewhere along the way, somebody decided it was good….or called it “tradition” and so it lives on today.
The haggis I tried was ground up into what looked like crumbled dried beef with lots of spices. Knowing that’s not what it really was, it took a lot of mental focus to take that first bite. I tasted many spices, but it was the lingering aftertaste that I did not care for. It tasted very foul to me.
I have to admit that the mental images of what I was actually eating probably had a lot to do with my opinion of the taste. Many people love haggis here and it is apparent that the people of this beautiful country have found many ways to make it palatable. You see it on every menu.
Fish & Chips. I am in the land of fish & chips, so I had to try it several times. The fish typically served is Haddock and a piece of it can be almost as long as your forearm. I washed down my battered fish with some pale ale. Somehow having authentic fish & chips from the place of origin made it even more delicious.
Whiskey. Scotland people are also very proud of their whiskey. I was able to find many kinds of whiskey in specialty stores that you cannot find anywhere else. You can also find newer breweries and newer whiskey formulations that are not yet widely available. Whiskey is also used in many desserts like bread pudding.
Highland beef. I have to say one of my favorite meals so far was in Inverness, in the Highlands region.
Lunch at the Kitchen Brasserie restaurant included sweet potato and red pepper soup followed by an entree of highlands beef and vegetable casserole over mashed potatoes. After a long morning wading and salmon fishing and working up a huge appetite, this certainly fit the bill.
I find lots of organic food here too. Organic eggs for scrambled eggs, porridge and many natural ingredients are used in the dishes. Perhaps this is why the Scottish people have such beautiful skin.
The food is very good in Scotland. It is hearty food. Lots of meat and potatoes….and of course, haggis!