Here at Food Republic, we know our way around savory puddings and blood sausage. From boudin noir in France to Chilean ñache to soondae found in the markets of South Korea, it’s all good to us when it comes to stuffing casings and boiling the lesser bits of the animal. But our hands-down favorite is the Scottish delicacy, haggis. Simple put, haggis is oats, onions, suet and sheep’s “pluck” (lungs, liver and heart), sewn into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. It’s typically served with neeps and tatties (that would be Scottish for rutabaga and potato). This all sounds a little Game of Thrones, we realize. But it is actually really delicious — wonderfully gamey like North African merguez, but with a unique texture that is almost pudding-like.
Though here’s the thing about haggis. As of this writing, you have to travel to Scotland to actually eat the authentic stuff. Why? Because the United States has banned haggis from being imported to our shores. The consumption of sheep lung, a key ingredient, has been banned in the US since 1971 — while all British lamb has been banned since 1989 following the mad cow disease outbreak.
Scottish haggis producers, with government-backing, hope to change this and have entered talks with the Obama Administration to nullify the ban. "With the huge popularity in the US of all things Scottish, hopefully these negotiations will allow American consumers the chance to finally taste authentic, high-quality Macsween haggis very soon," says James Macsween, director of his namesake haggis producer in an interview with the Guardian.
The Scotish government is pushing for a lift of the British lamb ban, as part of a European Union-US trade deal currently being negotiated. This follows the end a ban on UK beef exports to the US earlier this year.
Of course any homesick Scot living in America will tell you that haggis can be found in some restaurants in the United States. New York City gastro pub Highlands serves a version, as does the Duke Of Perth in Chicago (they also advertise something described as haggis wings, which we aren’t going to think about too much). But nothing is like the real thing from the motherland, which unfortunately is not available until some paperwork is signed. But it looks like somebody will be buying a round of drams in Washington D.C. in the near future. Until then, get yourself to Scotland.
Read more about Scotish food and culture on Food Republic: