Wild haggis - Latin: Haggis Scoticus. - [Fearsome Critter of Scotland.]
• National Dish: According to various news sources, including The Guardian, the Sydney morning herald & Atlas Obscura. In 2003, an online survey commissioned by haggis manufacturers Halls of Broxburn (The largest haggis company) in the run-up to Saint Andrews day In the British Isles. Surveyed 1,000 American tourists who were visiting Scotland over the summer: they found that about 1/3rds of the tourists (23%, thats one in four people.) believed that the haggis was a real creature or that they wanted to hunt one during their trip.
[A platter of Haggis, Tatties, Neeps and Whisky. Image source]
'Haggis' in reality of course, is Considered a Scottish delicacy and it is Scotland's national dish. - The recipe to prepare haggis varies; its a Savory pudding composed using a sheep's stomach bag, filled with a mix of sheep liver, heart and lung, oatmeal, suet, stock, onions, pepper and spices. - its quite similar in consistency to "offal." - it's traditionally accompanied by mashed potatoes, (often called 'tatties.') & Turnips (known as 'neeps') and enjoyed with a swig of Scotch whisky. [This recipe might be a bit odd to some, as 'Authentic Haggis' is not so easily available in our part of the world. - In some parts of the USA (& a few parts of Canada.) Imported, Authentic Haggis has in fact, been illegal here since the 70's due to complications and a ban involving imported sheeps lung, though, other types with substitutions exist, but perhaps aren't as widely enjoyed.]
[A Vintage Cartoon Haggis recipe postcard by Dennis Print and Publishing. Published 1980-1989.]
• Poetic origins? - Although this isn't The origin of haggis as a food, nor is It the origin of the critter: The meal itself is said to have been made famous by Robbie Burns, Scotlands national poet & lyricist, who wrote ’Address to a Haggis’ back in 1786 - ‘Burns Night' is traditionally celebrated on the 25th of January (his birthdate) with a feast. - Although his poem does not mention the haggis as anything other than a tasty dish, the full poem goes as follows:
"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 of a grace
As lang ‘s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut ye up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!"
"My heart’s in the Highlands,
twa strings on my bow
To hunt the fierce haggis,
man’s awfu’est foe.
And weel may my bairn
ha’ a tear in his ee.
For I shallna come back
if the haggis hunts me."
• The unabridged, full version of the poem (which I've sadly never once seen shared.) goes as follows: [via newspapers.com, thanks again to my friends at fearsomecritters.ca for hunting this one down for me!!]
• Haggis Hunting:
[A 'traditional Haggis whistle' via Clan.com ]
• Some Haggis Variants, Legends & Sub-species:
Though there are far too many Haggis variants to list at once in detail, the following are a few popular ones and some interesting, famous or otherwise popular haggis stories that I've found whilst researching around the net. [I'll come back and add to this extensive list on occasion so check back when you can!]
• 'The Great Haggis' (Haggis magnificens) - "Now thought to be hunted to extinction (or hiding out with nessie) an enormous breed of haggis which could feed an entire village from St. Andrew's Day to Burns' Night as documented in "The Capture of the Great Haggis, 1743." - The creatures length was almost 1.2m with a 1.8m girth. - It was truly the Great Haggis. - The scene of the triumphant homecoming, at a place close to what is now called Kirkcaldy, was recorded for history by "Buik Heggie" an artist of the time: Andrew B. Heggie, a descendant of the artist and native of Fife, now resides in Glenrothes. - "William Keith" reproduced the following engraving to commemorate the event." - [The dubious article which is the source for the following picture,also goes on about haggis history, poaching and a couple other well doccumented sub-species which I mentioned briefly earlier.]• 'Golden Haggis' - A rare variety of haggis, apparently they are more Common in the Western Isles (especially on the machair) than on the mainland, where it commands a premium price. - it is also the name of a reward, given for excellency in cooking the dish.
• "The Flying Haggis" (Latin: Haggis Scotticus (volucris) -
[braemar films LTD flying haggis circa 1980's]
A (Much Cuter) Ceramic flying haggis were also produced as souvenirs in '72 by "Beneagles Scotch Whisky" - "it was Modelled by A Hallam Beswick." [more haggis bottles here.]
^[Vintage, Ceramic Flying haggis decanter - 1972]
• "Highland bog Haggis" (Latin: Haggis Gentils.) - [image posted to flicker in 2012] - it was found on display in the hallway of the Royal Hotel in Comrie: curiously, the accompanying Plaque, lists two similar variants of haggis [The "fantailed moon haggis" (mustinula erobus) & the "common coarse haggis" (Haggis Burnsii)] - perhaps its a flightless variant of flying haggis? - [As of publishing, I've reached out to the hotel and am hoping for a response with further details, I'll be sure to update here with more information when/if I hear back!]
• Platypud haggis: (Latin: Marag fabulosus.) - For six years, 2000-2006, the Balblair Whisky company sponsored a live webcam for people to 'Hunt the Haggis' Online. - The yearly grand prize for spotting a 'Golden haggis' was a trip to Scotland, and a two night stay in the luxury break at the Gleneagles Hotel (including breakfast and use of the sumptuous leisure facilities at The Club.)- According to them, the Haggis is a relative of the platypus: the website also chronicled the 'history of the haggis' gave hunting tips, two shockwave games, recipes & much more in a rather extensive haggisclopedia.
• Hairy Haggis in Kids books, "Hamish the Hairy Haggis" & a few Other 'Hairy Haggis' Mascots: - 'Hairy haggis' are quite often (but not always) anthropomorphized versions of wild haggis, they usually walk upright and are often go by "Hamish" - [a very common boys name.] - like any good scot they usually belong to their own clans, and like any other type of haggis, are hunted on Burnsnight. - 'Hamish the Hairy Haggis' was published In May 2005. Just a month later, the adorable paddington-like 'Hamish Mchaggis' was published June 1st 2005, (the series has had several sequels since.) Notably, Mchaggis also has a mascot suit for PR appearances... ...Speaking of PR: The mascot for the previously mentioned Halls company is also apparently a Haggis named Hamish and was featured in a couple 2015 & 2016 articles. (Sadly theres little information to be found about hamish online & I cant find anything more about him, so its hard to say much for its origin or what he looks like, he appears differently in both photos!!) - Various tour companies, as well as the Edinburgh marathon also spout 'Hairy Haggis' as their mascots.
• Further Haggis Variants: Probably the most impressive bestiary of Haggis variants can be found in the "Concise Field Guide to the Haggis of Scotland" [Published 2017.] by 'Haggologist' Stephen Bowers, with illustrations by Katrina Mcintosh. the book includes 22 unique species, their diets, locations, lore, as well as their notes about their location zoology, and how they taste! - Do Check it out if you want to learn more about these fascinating creatures.
Sticker art by @samkalensky, part of my 'fearsome critters' collection of stickers, check my shop and follow for many more.