Haggis: Scotland’s national dish

London to Scotland in a VW Camper Van

Haggis: Scotland’s national dish

Vegetarian options are available, but a real Scottish haggis consists of a mixture of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, onions, oatmeal, suet and spices, encased in the stomach of the animal.

Sounds like something from a horror film doesn’t it? But, haggis is considered by many to be a very tasty dish, and that’s not just the Scots. It’s so revered in Scotland that it was even the subject of a 1787 poem, Address to a Haggis by national poet Robert Burns.

Traditionally, the haggis comes alongside ‘neeps and tatties’ which are mashed turnips and potatoes served separately, and not forgetting a wee dram, a small glass of Scotch whiskey, as part of a Burns Supper.

Where is it from?

There isn’t actually much evidence to say that haggis actually originated in Scotland. Local folklore, however, tells a different story.

One story goes that during the days of the old cattle drovers, women had to prepare their husbands a meal with what few rations they had. The mix was put into a sheep’s stomach for ease of transportation when the men made the long journey to the markets in Edinburgh from the Highlands.

Another story, that’s quite clearly fictional, is that the haggis is an animal that runs around the Highlands with one pair of legs shorter than the other pair. Trust the Americans to believe this story. An old Guardian report states that in a poll, 33 % of American visitors believed that the haggis was indeed an animal, with 23% even saying that they thought they could catch one on their visit to Scotland.

Haggis today

In modern times the haggis has seen various transformations, especially in fast-food joints. It has been put on a pizza, made into a haggis burger on a bun and even a haggis pakora has been seen in some Indian restaurants. There’s even a sport called haggis hurling, where competitors compete to see who can chuck their haggis the furthest.

Haggis, neeps, tatties

 

Where to try it

If you’d rather eat your haggis than throw it across a field, then you should come to Scotland to try out the national dish. Hiring a campervan is a great source of alternative accommodation for your stay. Where can I find a great haggis then you ask? Well, Glasgow has some fantastic restaurants to cater to your haggis needs.

The City Merchant isn’t cheap, but their Flavours of Scotland menu is to die for, boasting many traditional dishes as well as haggis. Award-winning Babbity Bowster seems like quite a relaxed place to enjoy your haggis, you can choose to sit at a table or just around the bar and it’s supposedly very tasty! Rab Ha’s is a combined pub-restaurant with great service and various international foods on offer as well as haggis.

It’s hard to imagine that someone who hasn’t tried haggis before would be drooling at the prospect of trying out sheep’s organs. But, really, you should live a little, be daring and just give it a taste!

Scotland voted 3rd on Lonely Planet Top Countries List

Scotland voted 3rd on Lonely Planet Top Countries List

Scotland voted 3rd on Lonely Planet Top Countries List

lonely planet scotland

Scotland has pipped exotic lands such as Macedonia, Malaysia and the Seychelles to the post in being voted the 3rd best place to visit in ‘Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014’.

This is quite a feat considering the only two places which beat Scotland were Antarctica coming in at number two, and Brazil owning the number one spot. Lonely Planet is encouraging readers to put their explorer hats on and visit the icebergs and penguin communities in an expedition across the continent.

But, if you think Scotland’s cold then you’ll certainly be freezing your bits off if you holiday in this destination. It’s also easy to see why Brazil was voted number one on the list; they’re hosting the 2014 world cup.

Scotland achieved its spot on the top ten, as it’s due to have ‘an eventful year’. And they’re not wrong. As you all know, Glasgow will be hosting the XX Commonwealth Games in the summer.

Lonely Planet also mentions Scotland’s plans to have 2014 as Year of Homecoming, meaning a celebration of Scottish heritage, tradition and food and drink in a bid to lure expats back to their homeland.

It’s clear that 2014 will be the year to visit the country then, even if you don’t get tickets for the games. 2014 will be all about celebrating the native culture and so you’ll have a real Scottish experience (kilt optional). Why not hire a campervan for the duration of your trip?

Another reason why it’ll be an eventful year according to Lonely Planet is a matter of politics. They’re asking,’ to be or not to be independent, that is the question.’

On 18th September 2014, the Scottish government will hold a referendum on the issue, after not achieving enough support to hold such an event until now. According to Wikipedia, issues to be discussed are ‘the economic strength of Scotland, defence arrangements, continued relations with the UK, and membership of supranational organisations, particularly the European Union and NATO.’

No matter where you stand on this issue, 2014 is sure to be an interesting and potentially even an historic year for Scotland.

Lonely Planet has been a trusted provider of travel guides for over 40 years. But, if all of that hasn’t sparked your interest, then there are heaps of further reasons to visit the beautiful regions of Scotland. Wildlife, attractions, culture, castles, lochs, scenic settings and even skiing attracts visitors every year. But the atmosphere and buzz of the Commonwealth Games is sure to bring an influx of visitors in 2014.

Have a gander at the full list, which also includes, Sweden, Belgium, Malawi and Mexico, here. Don’t forget Scotland’s high ranking though!