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Haggis Poisoning

Last Friday was Burns Night, the annual celebration of the life Scots poet Rabbie Burns in which folk gather to eat haggis, neeps and tatties, washed down with poems and whisky.

Gareth and I had been invited to a proper Burns Supper but were both rotten with the cold, so it was haggis at home. Every year I forget about the Haggis Poisoning until it’s too late. This is the technical term for the following process:

  1. Getting excited about Burns night – a glimmer of fun at the end of miserable January
  2. Shopping for the haggis, umm-ing and ahh-ing between traditional or vegetarian style
  3. Spending an age cooking it, along with the mashed potatoes and the turnips that make the house whiff like old socks
  4. Ceremoniously stabbing the haggis open with a knife, the room filling with a delicious spicy, savoury aroma. Suddenly it’s all, Forget television and telephones, haggis is the great Scottish invention of all time
  5. Piling a mountain of food on your plate as you quiver in anticipation
  6. After half a dozen mouthfuls it all floods back – the overwhelming richness of the haggis-neeps-tatties trio
  7. Downing a glass of whisky before collapsing on the couch and vowing never to do it again

This year Gareth was in a merry mood and actually recited a few verses of Address to a haggis. Well, he read them off my phone, standing in the kitchen. I think more great foods should be proceeded by a poem in their honour.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm

And on it goes for another 275 stanzas.

The haggis

Sure enough, despite the tastiness of the dinner (I mash spuds like a demon) I was quickly done in. All that oats and offal combined with fluffy carb mountains? I’m oot, Duncan Bannatyne-stylee.

Duncan Bannatyne

“Oh good, more for me!” Gareth said, scraping the contents of my plate on to his.

“You think you want more but you are going to hit the haggis wall about five minutes from now.”

“No way man, I’m starving. I’m Scottish and I can take it.”

Five minutes later.

“Oh god. Help me. Haggis poisoning!”

We vowed to never again scoff the haggis. Until next January rolls around then we’ll do the dance again.

Sidenote: Whisky is brilliant. I only had a wussy dribble in the bottom of my Soviet dictators glass but it was enough to make me feel unstoppable. Forget the ‘flu; the whisky blazed a path down my throat and hosed the muck right out of my lungs. Temporarily, anyway. Magical stuff.

I like how Australia Day comes right after Burn’s Night. It makes both digestive and spiritual sense that they’re nestled together. On January 26 I made a hamburger with the lot for dinner. They’re quite healthy if you cook them right and don’t have a pile of chips on the side. I also skipped the egg as I couldn’t be bothered washing another pan.

Anyway, it was delicious (but unphotogenic). I should have written a Burns-inspired Ballad of the Burger With The Lot. Once again I tried to convert Gareth to the merits of beetroot but he’s still having none of it.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


23 thoughts on “Haggis Poisoning

  1. Due to diet we had to forego my ambitious plans of making haggis from scratch this year — though the ingredients are still in the freezer — so it’s great to experience it all from your perspective. The excitement, then the wall! I don’t miss it so much thinking about the wall ahead of time 🙂

  2. I am from Mainz in Germany and we celebrated Burns Night as well. Friends of mine started this tradition a couple of years ago and went to Edinburgh each year in order to buy haggis. It has become a huge event on my campus (where the celebration takes place), and this year 300 (!!) people showed up. Since the event has become so big, a German butcher produces haggis for our event (and it is very close to the real thing). My friends have found a good recipe for vegetarian haggis, and, of course, we have neeps and tatties, too. A local pipes and drums band, a folk band, and a ceilidh dance group were also there. We had Scottish exchange students give the address and the toasts. The night was great and brought me back to Edinburgh, one of my favorite cities. Ryanair is not flying to Scotland anymore, at least not from the closest airport, so we had to bring a part of Scottish culture to Germany. And that included haggis poisoning 😉

  3. I love a good Haggis 🙂 Mmm, Haggis Supper!

    You’re right about the whisky, it has magical properties against a cold.

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Heheeehee. Never had haggis, but I get roast lamb fatigue. Delicious suddenly turns to vile. Someone had to do the ode to Burger with the Lot. I present:

    O, BURGER WITH THE LOT!

    Tomato; lettuce;
    beetroot; cheese;
    Bacon*, egg* (*if you please)

    Limp fried onions!
    Sauce, one tonne-ions!

    O, BURGER WITH THE LOT!

    Do take heed
    One ingredient, you do need

    It is topical …
    And, aye, it’s tropical …

    Forget tinned pineapple
    And you have
    O, BURGER WITH THE NOT!

  5. Yooo Hooo, Shauna! Just dropping by the new digs, love what you’ve done with the place, very nice 😉

    Haggis is evil, and so is whiskey. Together they are very evil. My one time in Edinburgh, I felt I must do both because that’s ‘doing Scotland’. I also had the flu, due to the constant mist. From about 3 am. to 10 am the next day I was throwing up haggis+whiskey at some very nice hotel that Jase had splashed out on for our romantic Scottish holiday. I don’t know whether to blame the haggis, the whiskey or the flu, therefore I’ll probably have to do it again one day, just in case it was only the flu and not the other two things at all.

  6. no egg? you need the dribbly yolk to complete the experience! But tell me you had grilled pineapple?
    Next year you will have to have pav!

  7. Amazingly, a friend (and new neighbor, as we conveniently moved within walking distance of his abode) has an annual Burns Night party here in Portland, Oregon, USA. This year, we actually made it early enough to enjoy some haggis (additionally, he was smarter this year and made 5-6 rather than 3). I was enjoying it a lot, especially with a wee splash of HP and a side of mashed turnips. Luckily, it’s a once-yearly treat, so we don’t get fatigued that easily. We do enjoy the band, pipers, and the recitations of Burns’s poetry, as well. I hope the tradition continues here well into the future.

  8. I want burns night and australia day to be further apart and give me a breather in between but I do love them both. Highly recommend haggis nachos if you want to go the untraditional path – and also agree that beetroot is essential on the aussie burger – love it

  9. I just discussed beetroot with my boyfriend.
    He don’t like it either.
    Hmmmm….

    Beetroot and Vegemite on toast is awesome. Do try it.
    Luff this new blog

  10. Ah, whisky…one of the greatest things Scotland has given the world. I bought my husband a bottle of Laphroaig for his birthday (duty free in Kuala Lumpur – a serious bargain!) and he’s eking it out ever so slowly to make it last.

    I blame my Dad for my Scotch habit… at his funeral we had all the mourners drink a toast to him with Glenfiddich – he was a man who took his whisky seriously, and it seemed the right thing to do. An awesome send-off. 🙂

  11. What if… you bought less haggis, so there was less to tempt you into poisoning? I understand I may be showing some haggis size ignorance here, like – (animal) stomach for holding haggis comes in limited number of sizes.

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