While researching facts to add to my romance novels set in Scotland, I learned about a staple food called Haggis. In truth, I have heard and even tasted the American version of this treat. Yes, I use the word treat, because the taste must be acquired. My taste buds have not fallen under its spell, but when it is offered…I dig in.
Haggis is usually made by stuffing a sheep’s stomach with sheep’s pluck, what we know as the animal’s cooked heart, liver, and lungs. Onions, oatmeal, suet, and spices are added, and the mixture is put through a meat grinder. The stuffed sausage-like food is then cooked in an oven. The coarse texture has a distinct taste similar to goose liver pate, such as foie gras, a well-known French delicacy. The Scots eat it like candy.
In my first book in my Highland Games Through Time series, I mention haggis in a less-than positive light. My heroine, Haven MacKay, is upset with a friend and thinks:
Where had Jake run off to? Was he stuck in the long food lines? Or, had he escaped inside the beer tent?
I hope he chokes on a mouthful of haggis.
In my second book in the series, My Banished Highlander, my hero from ancient Scotland finds himself at a present-day Highland Games, and he is hungry:
The aroma of haggis made his stomach rumble and reminded him that his mistress had sent him to procure their noon meal.
I cannot say that my personal experience tasting haggis is the same as one might experience when visiting Scotland. America does not allow the use of lungs, and sometimes casings other than a sheep’s intestine are used. I have spread what Scots call tasty pudding on crackers at Burns Suppers back in New Hampshire. ‘Burns suppers’ are traditionally held in late January to commemorate the birthday of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. As his poem Address to a Haggis, is recited, giggles echo among the diners, and glasses of whisky clink. Check out the poem in its original text as well as it’s idiomatic translation HERE http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Address_to_a_Haggis
Why would someone create such a food? Well, when all you have to eat is leftover sheep parts and you are near starvation because you are down to your last sheep, someone came up with the idea to use…ah… other parts. (I refuse to talk about fried testicles) The first mention of haggis is from way back in the 14th century, and some think it might have originated in Scandinavia, but the modern haggis is considered a traditional Scottish dish. Today, many are served in artificial casings, and sometimes served deep-fried in batter, or as a pizza topping. Unfortunately, it is illegal to import haggis into the US from the UK due to a ban on food containing sheep lungs. The situation was further complicated in 1989 when all UK beef and lamb was banned from importation to the US due to BSE, also known as Mad Cow Disease. Read more about this ban HERE http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/04/haggis-banned-in-the-u-s-a/
So, imagine my surprise when I saw bags of haggis chips for sale at a Highland games festival in North Carolina. I bought some, and the flavor was very reminiscent of the haggis I have tasted. The ingredients listed are: Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Haggis, and various seasonings. Looks like someone snuck this by the US food patrol!
BLURB: My Reluctant Highlander
Skye has spent the last five years trying to forget the blacksmith who followed her back to 16th century Scotland, to help fight evil. Sending Jake Jamison home against his will was a disastrous mistake. Stealing his heart was not part of the plan.
Jake must share his secret, Skye must give her heart fully, and both must dare to love in the time they have.
She loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Area Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers.
Connect with Nancy:
MY RELUCTANT HIGHLANDER buy links
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Don't forget to leave a comment...and put your email address in the comment box! One lucky person will win a tote filled with autographed paperback books by the following authors. Nancy met up with them at the recent Romance Writers of America Conference. A winner will be chosen on Thursday, September 12th. The tote includes:
LORD OF DARKNESS by Elizabeth Hoyt
CRAVE THE MOON by Lori Handeland
WHO WANTS TO MARRY A COWBOY by Abigail Sharpe
A FAIRY TALE SAMPLER from Eloisa James
MY HONORABLE HIGHLANDER by Nancy Lee Badger
And a bag of Haggis Chips, all in a Tote (courtesy of AVON)
*an international winner will receive a selection of ebooks instead.
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