Scottish culture – Introduction to haggis
We do a lot of talking about various tourist destinations and cultural interests and we usually focus on buildings, museums, monuments and the like, however today we’ll take a look at a bit of culinary culture, and look at one of the most peculiar dishes that are very closely related to a country. That country is Scotland, and that dish is of course, haggis.
The haggis is so closely associated with Scottish tradition that many think that it originated in the Highlands despite the fact that there is very little evidence for this. In fact there are certain Roman writings that point to haggis-like products. Going back even further there’s a reference to a primitive sort of haggis in Homer’s Odyssey, so it should be pretty clear that the haggis did not actually appear in Scotland.
Some food historians actually say that haggis came to Scotland long before there was an actual Scotland, on Scandinavian longships. There is a bit of etymological proof behind this theory because it is thought that ‘hag’ fro haggis derives from an Old Norse word: hoggva or the Icelandic ‘haggw’ which meant ‘to hew’ or to strike with a sharp weapon, obviously relating to the chopped-up contents of the dish.
However there’s a different competing theory saying that ‘haggis’ is actually derived from Norman French, the thing is that nobody can tell for sure, so these remain theories that are talked about food historians.
The reasons behind the existence of haggis are also unsure, some say that it was born out of necessity because it uses the least expensive cuts of meat as well as the innards, and in times of famine people would eat anything that they could get their hands on.
On the other hand there’s also the idea that haggis came to be as a way of cooking the quick-spoiling ofal very close to the site of a hunt. The liver and kidneys could be directly grilled over a fire, but the lungs, stomach and intestines couldn’t be subjected to the same treatment, so chopping them up and filling the animal’s stomach with them alongside whatever other fillers – including possibly some aromatic plants – and then boiling the assembly would have allowed for those parts not to go to waste.
We’ve only talked about part of what haggis actually is, we’ll continue this look into the not-so-Scottish dish in future articles, however till then keep our United Kingdom car hire services in mind for your trip to the British Isles.