Dalbeattie Business Index

How to Cook and Address
The Haggis :

Back to : T.H. Carson, Butcher

Haggis are normally sold ready-cooked, the genuine ones being cased not in plastic and staples but the cleaned and stuffed belly of a sheep. Traditionally, haggis are steamed for an hour, or SIMMERED uncovered in a pan for an hour. They can be reheated in a microwave for 6 - 9 minutes, but must be served piping hot on well-heated plates. The accompanying vegetables are mashed potato (Taties) and mashed swede turnip (Nips), each vegetable mashed with butter, milk and salt and pepper to taste. The traditional drink is, naturally, whiskey, but a good Haggis does not need to be hidden by a dram.

The great poet Robert Burns was the man who used the Lowland Scots of his time to compose one of the most famous poems in the world. Recited on Burns Night, the 25th January, or St. Andrews Night, or on New Year's Eve, it is a fit honour for the Haggis. The reciter normally cuts the Haggis open during the third verse. A quicker finish is then advised, lest the food cool.

To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race !
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Paunch, 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,
Warm-reeking, rich !

Then, horn for horn, they stretch and strive;
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swalled kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit !" hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make 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, and 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 !

Robert Burns (1759-1796).

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Page added to Dalbeattie Business Index on 7th March 1998,
last updated 4th January 1999.