If you are visiting Stirling after travelling to Scotland from afar, you may have heard about many things that are quintessentially Scottish, such as tartan, bagpipes and whisky. But one culinary treat that is often misunderstood is haggis.
Anyone who was aware of Scottish goings-on in late January might have noted the role played by this culinary dish in a notable national event - Burns Night. This is a celebration of the 18th century poet Robert Burns, whose life and works coincided with a Scottish cultural renaissance after years characterised marked by union with England and the suppression of Highland culture after Culloden.
Among the poems read on the occasion is Burns’ Address to a Haggis, before the haggis is eaten with neeps (mashed swede) and tatties (potatoes).
However, just because Burns Night has come and gone for another year does not mean you won’t get the chance to try haggis while eating out in Stirling. You can certainly find it on our menu.
The first question some may have is just what haggis is. Popular culture can depict it as a kind of animal, but it definitely isn’t. The meat in haggis traditionally consists of minced lamb, made from off-cuts, like liver, lungs and heart. Extras like oats, suet, spices and salt are then added to give it extra flavour (these ingredients can vary).
It is then boiled in the skin of a sheep’s stomach (which, you’ll be glad to read, has been thoroughly cleaned out first), before being served. While neeps and tatties are the traditional accompaniment (and not just on Burns Night), modern applications include our haggis fritters, while some Scottish curry houses have been known to serve haggis pakoras.
That may sound like an acquired taste, but it is one you must try. While the sound of offal may not be that appetising and it’s true the dish was originally the food of the poor, nowadays it is happily consumed by royalty in Balmoral. The ‘great chieftain o’ the pudding race’ really is a dish fit for a king.