Saturday, November 14, 2009

St. Margaret's Day

Join us for Worship and Lunch on Sunday, November 15 when we celebrate St. Margaret’s Day

Saturday, I pick up the haggis which will be part of our Celebration Lunch on St. Margaret’s Day. It is being made for us by Janet James of Bethlehem.

Her recipe is chopped lamb, steel cut oats, spices and some liver. It is a milder version of the Haggis served in Scotland. Haggis is traditionally served with “neeps” and “tatties” which is mashed turnip and mashed potato.

She makes 30 to 40 pounds of Haggis around January 25 when it is featured at celebrations of the poet Robert Burns’ birthday. Burns wrote a poem called “Address to the Haggis” which is often recited at events. The poem begins:

"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!"

Those involved in the presentation of the haggis: poet, piper, cook, and chieftain of the clan get a dram of single malt scotch whiskey as the haggis is dished out for the guests.

So, what is “haggis”?
According to one poll, 33% of American visitors to Scotland believe haggis to be an animal.

Haggis is a dish containing sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. It belongs to the sausage family. As the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique puts it, "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour".

Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach. There are also meat-free recipes for vegetarians. It is widely available in supermarkets in Scotland and sometimes it is sold in tins.

Haggis may be served in Scottish fast-food establishments deep fried in batter. Together with chips, this comprises a "haggis supper". A "haggis burger" is a patty of fried haggis served on a bun, and a "haggis bhaji" is another deep fried variant, available in some Indian restaurants in Glasgow. Higher class restaurants sometimes serve "Chicken Balmoral" or "Flying Scotsman", which is chicken breast stuffed with haggis and sometimes also wrapped in bacon. Haggis can also be used as a substitute for minced beef in various recipes. In some Scottish butchers, haggis is combined with Lorne sausage into a product colloquially known as "Braveheart" sausage.

Now for some real trivia:

Haggis is used in a sport called haggis hurling, which involves throwing a haggis as far as possible. The present Guinness World Record for Haggis Hurling has been held by Alan Pettigrew for over 25 years. He threw a 1.5 lb Haggis 180 feet, 10 inches on the island of Inchmurrin, Loch Lomond, in August 1984.

And more locally:
On October 8, 2008, competitive eater Eric "Steakbellie" Livingston set a world record by consuming 3 pounds of haggis in 8 minutes on WMMR radio in Philadelphia.


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