Fans of nose-to-tail-eating and Scottish cuisine in particular will be cheered by the news that the British government is lobbying the US to overturn a decades-old import ban on haggis. The Scottish national dish—made with sheep’s stomach, the heart and lungs of a lamb and various other animal bits—tends to divide opinion between those that think it’s the best thing in the universe and those that question why the hell you would want to eat an animal’s plumbing. It’s been prohibited here since 1971 when the US ruled that lung is inedible (which seems somewhat draconian, as if people want to eat it, then surely it’s edible?), though authentic haggis was further doomed by the ban on British lamb after an outbreak of mad cow disease in 1989.
The UK’s environment secretary, who’s in Washington for talks on haggis, believes that Americans are hot for Scottish heritage and will take to the delicacy if given a chance to try it. (A cynic may wonder whether the British government’s concern for haggis exports may have something to do with the fact that they need to look as though they are doing something to help farmers and producers in the run up to a referendum in September on whether Scotland should be an independent country.)
Haggis is thought to have originally been a dish used to preserve offal, which would otherwise go bad—salted, tucked into a stomach and then boiled for a few hours, the meat would keep for a couple of weeks. And though now exclusively associated with Scotland, the Romans are known to have made products in a haggis style, and there are Irish, Welsh and even English variants.
It is possible to buy canned haggis, though a traditionalist would balk at such a decadent idea, and your average Scot probably couldn’t even pronounce the words ‘vegetarian haggis’ let alone try such a thing. In town, the Rose and Thistle Pub (2314 NE Broadway) sometimes has haggis on their menu and The Frying Scotsman cart does a deep fried version, while a USDA approved variety is available for mail order from Roseburg. Of course, you could always make your own—there’s a traditional recipe here, though this version uses ingredients available in the US. Just something to think about if you’re looking for a truly alternative Fourth of July party....