English Food and Haggis get a Bad Rap

I first visited Edinburgh in February of 2015 with Marcie.  Here’s a link to an album of that trip.  We absolutely loved it. The ornate architecture with wonderful sculptural details everywhere was captivating.  Even the air vents are pretty. You can find live music any night of the week. People are friendly and have awesome accents. Despite popular opinion, I enjoy the food in the UK.  Sure, I’ve had some bland meals, but many of them are exceptional.  You can find any style of restaurant, from cozy pub to elegant eatery and you can find any nationality of food.  Of course, there’s plenty of pub grub like fish & chips or chicken and mushroom pies (my favorite!). You can also find everything including Mexican, Thai, French, and of course Indian. 

What’s the National Food of England?

A former coworker asked me if I knew what the national food of England was.  “Fish and Chips,” I replied.  “No! It’s curry!” he exclaimed.  In fact, if you’re in England late, looking for food, pretty much all you can find is Indian; even in London on a Friday night. Oh, strike that, there’s always fast food available. On my first trip to London, my coworkers and I sadly opted for McDonald’s for lack of being able to find food anywhere else after 9 pm. That said, there aren’t fast-food chains on every corner like you’d see in the US.  They are sprinkled here and there, often disguised in local architecture, primarily the restaurants are locally owned.

Stacy ordering from a McDonalds kiosk in London

Stacy ordering from a McDonalds kiosk in London

Haggis is better than it sounds, I promise

Haggis (center) with Neeps and Tatties

Haggis (center) with Neeps and Tatties

Scotland’s most well-known food is haggis.  Haggis is minced sheep or calf “offal” (heart, liver, and lungs) with oatmeal, onions, suet, seasoning, and spices traditionally cooked in the animal’s stomach.  Sounds awful right?  Hell, “offal” is pronounced as awful. I was leery of trying it but a big part of travel for me is experiencing it through food. the photo to the left is from the first time I tried it in 2015.  Marcie and I stopped at a place called The Last Drop.  the pub got its name from the fact that it was located just steps away from where criminals and people persecuted for religious beliefs were hung in Grassmarket gallows.  The story goes that the condemned were allowed one last drink of alcohol before being hung.

The Last Drop is now a warm, cheery, bustling, traditional Scottish pub. Marcie & I were pleasantly surprised by our first haggis experience there. It’s hard to describe how it tastes. This one had the texture of browned hamburger and had a mild taste kind of like sausage.  There was no trace of the strong, disgusting flavors that I remember from liver.  We tried it again two more times that trip and found that it varies wildly.  It is traditionally served with “Neeps and Tatties” – mashed turnips and mashed potatoes.  At the beautiful upscale restaurant Angels and Bagpipes on the Royal Mile, the haggis was cooked in an eggroll wrapper with fancy sauces. At the Contrast Brasserie in Inverness, a haggis bonbon was one of the sides. You’d never have guessed either contained haggis.

 

Chicken with chestnut mushroom sauce and a haggis bonbon

Chicken with chestnut mushroom sauce and a haggis bonbon

I was kind of surprised that Stacy tried it. Her first response was “Oh hell no!” after hearing what it actually was. Our breakfast buffet at our hotel included haggis.  It wasn’t the best example of the dish and though early-morning stomachs can lack courage, we did it!

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  • George Brown

    May 2, 2018 at 9:19 pm
    Reply

    I think I would have tried each one that you mention. The last two sound really interesting.

  • Christina

    May 2, 2018 at 5:38 pm
    Reply

    Notice I'm not saying that you should run to your local Scottish food purveyor for some... I'm glad we tried it though!

  • Unknown

    May 2, 2018 at 5:30 pm
    Reply

    Hmmmmmm

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About Me

Hi, I'm Christina. I love travel, cats, gardens, house sitting, birds, painting, dogs, museums, good food & drink, you know - all the good stuff! I've been working on my first memoir, Magicians, Cross Dressers and My Uterus while living my second!

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