I crossed another one off of the bucket list this weekend trying Haggis in Edinburgh, Scotland. As many of you know Haggis is the traditional Scottish food of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced with other ingredients and cased like a sausage. Traditionally Haggis is in a casing of the sheep’s stomach lining, but I don’t think that this was the case at Maggie Dickson’s Pub.
Maggie Dickson or Half Hangit’ Maggie was an inhabitant of Edinburgh who was executed in 1724 by hanging in the Old Town’s Grass Market nearby the castle. She was guilty of having concealed her pregnancy of an illegitimate child and abandoning it after a stillbirth. As her supposedly deceased body was being driven to the cemetery she suddenly regained consciousness and called from her casket that she was in fact not dead yet. When she was brought back to the Grass Market to be hung again the judge ruled that she had already taken her punishment and that she would not be executed a second time.
The Grass Market is no longer covered in grass and cattle and trading stalls but is a nice cobblestone square surrounded by shops and pubs. Last Saturday the streets were strewn with Scottish rugby fans going to watch the all star UK Lions defeat the Australian national team. Rugby and Haggis? I know. It was quite Scottish.
My mother and many others had prepared me for the worst but I must admit that the Haggis which I was served was not
offensive in the least. It came as two patty shaped slices displayed charmingly on a bed of turnips and potatoes – neeps and tatties. Curiously, it smelt like a MacDonald’s Big Mac because of the lettuce and onion garnish. It was delicious. I have become a big fan of black pudding, the cased filling of boiled beef blood, and haggis was pleasantly similar but with a very distinct flavour. Savory with a hint of spice describes it well and the whisky sauce certainly enhanced that. If you ever have the chance, do try haggis as you should any new food, but forget about its notorious reputation because it is really good.
Sunday morning I had a heaped plate of traditional Scottish breakfast: sausages, bacon, black pudding, fried egg, mushroom, tomato and toast in a restaurant with some interesting art and decor. It was just what I needed to start a day of sightseeing in Scotland.