17 Haggis Facts: Tuck Into This Traditional Scottish Dish | Kidadl


17 Haggis Facts: Tuck Into This Traditional Scottish Dish

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Haggis is Scotland's national dish.

This dish is one of the most popular regional dishes in the United Kingdom. Scots all over the world often love to devour haggis.

Haggis is a savory meat food that can be light brown or black depending on the ingredients and amounts used. Many people have likened the shape of haggis to that of a whisky barrel. However, the shape can change according to a particular sheep's stomach (yes, haggis is traditionally wrapped in a sheep's stomach).

Scots not only enjoy haggis as part of Burns supper, but it is also actually eaten any time of the year in Scotland as well as in other countries, including England.

According to a survey, England is the place where haggis is sold the most and not Scotland. In addition to England and the rest of the United Kingdom, countries such as France, Hong Kong, Spain, and Ireland are considered to be haggis's biggest consumers.

A study conducted in 2003 found that about one-third of Americans who visited Scotland thought haggis was actually a real animal. Haggis imports into the U.S.A. have been banned since the '70s since it contains sheep lungs; all livestock lungs had been banned because of the risk of fluids such as phlegm and stomach acid getting into the lungs during slaughter.

Interestingly though, haggis is so famous in Scotland and other European countries that there are various versions invented for every type of person. For instance, people who don't like meat can enjoy a vegetarian haggis. There is also an option of haggis-flavored crips as well as ice cream. Read on to explore more amazing facts about haggis.

If you have been interested in reading these haggis facts so far, then read on to find out the history of the food, its main ingredients, and health benefits, as well as traditions associated with the national dish of Scotland.

Origins And History Of Haggis

Haggis is a savory pudding enjoyed by Scots for a very long time. It is a traditional dish with a rich history behind its origin.

While haggis is considered to be a traditional Scottish dish, it was not invented in Scotland or by the Scots. According to historical accounts, the first written trace of a haggis-like sausage was found in the writings of Aristophanes, who was an ancient Greek playwright.

In 423 BC, Aristophanes refers to one of these haggis-like sausages exploding.

Further historical evidence suggests that haggis might have been invented by the Romans.

It is also said that haggis was first created by hunters in ancient times when they mixed cereal with offal as it could not be preserved.

While the actual meaning of the term 'haggis' is not known, many people believe that it might be derived from the Scottish word 'hag' or 'hew', which refers to chopping or hewing. It is also similar to the Icelandic word 'höggva' and the Swedish 'hagga', which also means to hew. Haggis is a dish that is also considered to have connections to the Vikings. Dishes similar to haggis can be found in other Scandinavian countries, too. The Norwegian version of haggis is vegetarian, made of beans and lentils.

A recipe for a dish remotely similar to haggis was first printed in England during the early 1400s. 

Certain historical accounts of Scottish popular folklore talk about the cattle drovers of Scotland whose wives and daughters would prepare and pack lunch for the working men who ventured into the market. This lunch is said to have consisted of innards of the sheep enclosed in a stomach casing.

Other folk tales suggest that the discarded sheep parts were given to workers after a day's work.

The Main Ingredients Of Haggis

The national dish of Scotland has been adapted into different versions many times. Different regions have different variations of haggis that they enjoy. The main ingredients of haggis that infuse the meaty flavors in the dish are listed as follows.

Sheep's heart, liver, kidney, and lungs are the main meat sources used in haggis.

This savory pudding requires mincing the meat of the sheep's heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs, and mixing it with oatmeal and onions.

The minced mixture is seasoned with spices and salt to add flavor.

The spices differ according to taste, as well as the specific geographical location it is being created in.

Grounded black pepper, finely grated nutmeg, and some coriander seeds are a few common spices used in cooking traditional haggis.

According to the traditional haggis recipe, the mixture is cooked encased in a sheep's stomach. As such, the meat from the innards of the sheep as well as the sheep's stomach becomes the highlight of haggis.

Vegetarian haggis was first invented in 1948. It served as an alternative to the offal-heavy haggis, which might not be enjoyed by some people.

Burns Night is traditionally celebrated in Scotland by eating haggis and reciting Robert Burns' poem 'Address To A Haggis'.

Health Benefits Of Haggis

Haggis, with its high amount of meat, has many health benefits. The health benefits of this Scottish food are mentioned as follows.

Sheep's heart, liver, and other organs make for some high-quality offal, which contains a high amount of vitamins.

Studies suggest these vitamins promote the production of energy in the body which is required to carry out different tasks.

It is further suggested through studies that vitamins also strengthen the immune system and promote healthy vision.

Research has found that the minerals present in haggis may help with blood circulation as well as oxygen transportation.

According to the research, these minerals also help lower blood pressure, maintain hormone levels, improve bone health, and boost the immune system.

Studies imply that amino acids and protein from the meat in haggis can improve cellular health and its function. They further suggest that the protein can help with the growth as well as the repair of muscle tissues.

Haggis is traditionally accompanied by tatties (potatoes) and neeps (turnips), which also have many health benefits.

The carbohydrates present in the tatties, which are often mashed potatoes, can provide energy.

According to the research, the antioxidants present in neeps may improve skin health by reducing the damage caused by free radicals.

It is also suggested that folate, one of the B-vitamins in turnips, can lower bad cholesterol levels in the body and improve cardiovascular health. Studies suggest that turnips can promote bone health, too. This is possible through the high amount of calcium present in them.

Vitamin D present in haggis further aids in absorbing the calcium of the turnips, which in turn helps to strengthen bones.

Customs And Traditions Associated With Haggis

As the national dish of Scotland, haggis is associated with Scottish culture. The various traditions and customs related to haggis are listed below.

Haggis is the main highlight of Burns supper, a feast held on Burns Night.

Burns Night is traditionally celebrated on January 25 to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns, a famous Scottish poet.

It is said that the credit for putting haggis on the map belongs to Robert Burns.

Robert Burns wrote the poem 'Address To A Haggis' in 1787. This poem celebrates haggis and reflects on the superiority of this dish over other meat dishes. It starts, 

'Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 

Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!'

Which means, 'Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,

Great chieftain of the sausage race!'

According to custom, haggis is traditionally cooked on Burns Night as part of Burns supper. On the eve of Burns supper, a grand entrance of haggis is organized on a platter.

This grand entrance is accompanied by a piper playing bagpipes. Then the tradition of reciting Robert Burns' 'Address To A Haggis' takes place.

The poem may be recited by the host who has organized the Burns supper or by a person with good oratory skills.

The haggis is then sliced into two pieces according to custom, after which the meal of the Burns night commences.

The national dish of Scotland is so popular there is a sport called haggis hurling played by the people of Scotland. Lorne Coltart holds the record in haggis hurling for the longest hurl of 72.33 yds (66.14 m).

Nutritional Value Of Haggis

Haggis is quite a rich source of various nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. The nutritional value of haggis and the different nutrients present in it are mentioned as follows.

According to a source, around 4.6 oz (130 g) of haggis contains 403 calories.

This serving of haggis also contains 0.88 oz (25 g) of carbs and 0.98 oz (28 g) fats.

There are no salts or sugars present in this serving of haggis.

It also contains 0.49 oz (14 g) of protein.

The vitamins present in haggis are vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin C, and niacin.

Minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, biotin, and riboflavin are also present in haggis.

<p>Shafaque has a Bachelor's degree in English language and Literature from Sophia Girls' College with a Master's degree in Library and Information Sciences from Shreemati Nasthibai Damodar Thackersey Women's College. She has a strong command of written and verbal English, along with proficiency in Hindi, French, Urdu, and Korean. With extensive knowledge of English literature and creative writing, Shafaque has completed numerous creative writing courses online and has previously worked as a content writer at Scripto.</p>

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