*This post was originally published on Go Team Duncan in 2011.
How many times have we heard or told our kids “Just eat it, it’s good for you…” or “Just try it…”? I’ve done it. I’ve heard it. I’ve also been a victim of it. Did you know that your taste buds change approximately every seven years? That explains why as an adult, you probably don’t mind your vegetables so much even if you hated them as a kid. At any rate, let me tell you a little story. My Haggis story.
Think about this the next time you tell your kids just to ‘try something.’
I have always been proud of my heritage; I’m parts German, American Indian, Scottish, and Irish. At least that’s the best we can trace. I especially gravitate toward my Scot-Irish roots. I have an affinity for bagpipes, I would wear a kilt (where appropriate) if asked, and I think the culture is incredible.
I was a young adult—19 or 20, I believe, when the opportunity to attend a Scottish Festival produced itself. I jumped on the chance. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go hang around a bunch of burly, down to Earth, skirt-wearing people drinking, singing, and throwing big, heavy stuff as far as they can for sport?
As we pulled up to the event grounds, the beautiful, haunting moans of bagpipes filled the air. The women wore long, flowing dresses and bodices. The men sported their kilts and tunics. Plaid patterns were visible as far as the eye could see. Wonderful smells tantalized my senses. Flags and tents waved in the warm summer breeze.
Honestly, I didn’t know where to start. I wanted to take it all in. Savor every moment. It felt like a rite of passage in a way. I started slowly. I caught a log tossing competition, browsed a few shops touting their handmade wares, attempted to verify what I believed I knew about the origins of my family name.
Then, my stomach took over. It was nearly lunch and I was starving. Naturally, I felt the need to imprint my ‘wax seal’, topping off the adventure into my origins with a traditional Scottish dish—Haggis.
Finding a booth was easy. It was the one without a line. This should have been the first clue that there was something seriously wrong with my thought process. Proudly, I walked up to the counter and was promptly met by a thick accented brute of a woman, who, quite honestly, scared the crap out of me. Her forearms alone denoted many years of juggling sheep, perhaps hard labor. She already wore the smirk of someone who knew what was about to happen, but loved to watch the horror unfold—clue number two.
Regardless, I stood firm. That’s when I saw the sign. It was one of those that you see in a butcher shop that shows where all the cuts of meat come from. Only this one was hand drawn and it did not show leg quarters and back flanks. It showed organs…and there was a detailed list. Clue number three. Little did I know that Haggis was indeed NOT sausage, rather, it was made from offal (not a misspelling…it is, however, a fantastic bit of foreshadowing.)
Offal is defined as:
1. the parts of a butchered animal that are considered inedible by human beings; carrion.
2. the parts of a butchered animal removed in dressing; viscera.
3. refuse; rubbish; garbage.
Specifically, Haggis is a mixture of sheep heart, lung, liver, scraps, spices, potatoes, and turnips.
UHHH. WTF is wrong with the Scottish?!
I think I turned a pale after reading the chart, much to the amusement of Helga the Ogre-ish behind the counter. But, I composed myself and breathed for a moment. ‘OK,’ I thought to myself, ‘you can do this… you HAVE to do this! ‘ So, I ordered.
Helga gave me a gracious helping on a plate with some sort of bread and explained that it was very good, but that there was a table to my rear with condiments if I so desired. Of course, my first reaction to the grey-brown crumbly loaf was to smell it.
Bad, bad, bad idea.
Even Helga basically told me I was stupid for that one. She may have been gruff and manly, but she was no liar. This crap smelled like spiced death. Clue number four.
As I turned to walk away from the counter toward the condiments, she yells at me. “If you don’t like the taste of it, add the barbeque sauce in the pump…”
Immediately, I thought ‘Oh, good! I can cover up the taste if it is anything as horrific as it smells!’
“…it will put hair on your chest!” she finished with a mighty guffaw.
Clue number five. Never, EVER, attempt to eat something that someone says will put hair on your chest.
At this point, I am borderline terrified. Why I even considered going through with this poorly thought through plan I will never understand. But, I do not back down from a challenge (at least I didn’t prior to this incident) so I stood by the condiment table, fork in hand.
The texture probably should have been clue number six. Meat is not supposed to have the consistency of canned puppy food. (It’s also not supposed to smell like this, by the way.) I raised the chunk of ‘ick’ to my mouth, trying not to inhale at the same time, and bit down.
OH MY GOD, WHAT THE @&&#% WAS I THINKING?!
Horror, people. Absolute horror. I mixture of ‘seriously, why would someone do this to themselves?’ and ‘oh sweet Jesus, I’m going to vomit!’ assaulted my mouth. “The barbeque sauce!” I said to myself. “That has got to kill this!” So, I applied, and tried a second bite.
You understand the concept of multiplication, right? As in, 35 multiplied a BILLION TIMES IS A REALLY BIG NUMBER?! Yeah. I immediately threw myself over the edge of the nearest trash can (which, I am inclined to tell you was filled with about 75 other plates of Haggis with minimal bites take from it) and allowed the wave of saliva to expel the contents of my mouth. After I stood back upright, I threw the plate in as if it had done something to me personally, and made a hasty escape from the Haggis booth, minus my appetite.
Hair on my chest… I think Helga was a Sadist. The rumors are true, folks. The Scottish are @&%#* crazy.
Needless to say, I have never eaten Haggis again, nor will I. I also tend to cringe when I even hear the name—15+ years later. So much for exploring your roots.
While I seriously doubt you have a Haggis story of your own (PLEASE prove me right here), surely you have a similar experience. I’d love to read it! Leave me a comment or send an email!
Scottish flag graphic retrieved from https://cfsworldmusic.wikispaces.com/Celtic+Music Haggis picture retrieved from https://eatdrinkbetter.com/2008/10/08/haggis-could-vanish-due-to-climate-change/