Haggis Is English? A Scot Says It's Not A food historian's claim that the most Scottish of dishes originated in England has prompted consternation from Aberdeen to Inverness. But former world champion haggis maker Robert Patrick is having none of it.
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Haggis Is English? A Scot Says It's Not

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Haggis Is English? A Scot Says It's Not

Haggis Is English? A Scot Says It's Not

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In Scotland, from Aberdeen to Inverness, you might be hearing a collective moan brought about by this news that the Scottish delicacy - and I use the word with some hesitation - the Scottish delicacy haggis is, in fact, not Scottish but English. For the uninitiated, haggis is a mixture of sheep innards: heart, liver and lungs mixed with oatmeal, fat and spices, and cooked ideally in a sheep's stomach.


Hmm, and it is delicious. It is so much a part of Scottish tradition that the poet Robert Burns wrote an address to the haggis in 1786 calling it the great chieftain o' the puddin-race.

Unidentified Female: (Reading) Trenching your gushing entrails bricht, like ony ditch; and then, Oh what a glorious sicht, warm-reekin, rich.

BRAND: Now, a food historian says she's found a reference to haggis in an English cooking guide that pre-dates any Scottish reference by more than a century.

BLOCK: We're going to get reaction now from a haggis-maker, Robert Patrick, who joins us from Glasgow, Scotland. Mr. Patrick, welcome.

Mr. ROBERT PATRICK (Haggis Maker): Welcome. Thank you.

BLOCK: And how is this news about haggis being, in fact, an English creation? How is that going down in the greater haggis community?

Mr. PATRICK: It's not going down very well, I can assure you of that. I think everybody's a wee bit devastated with the news. But I was thinking of something that you say when I was heading over to the studios here. I have a good friend who's in America. I think everybody, we think apple pie was American…

BLOCK: Sure.

Mr. PATRICK: …and it's as simple as apple pie is American. Maybe somebody made it before them. The apple pie is American, haggis is Scottish. End of story.

BLOCK: You're sticking with that? That's your story and you're sticking to it?

Mr. PATRICK: Oh, I think there's absolutely no doubt whatsoever.

BLOCK: Well, you are, as I understand it, a world champion, a former world champion haggis maker.

Mr. PATRICK: Yes. That's correct. You know, I won the championship in the year 2003. And four years later, 2007, I was the runner up. So I've done quite well with the haggis.

BLOCK: Well, this food historian, Catherine Brown, says that she's found a reference in a book from 1615, an English book, and it says this: small oatmeal, mixed with the blood, and the liver of either sheep, calf or swine maketh that pudding which is called the haggis. And that's well before any reference in any Scottish literature.

Mr. PATRICK: Well, so she claims, anyway. I mean, as we all know, Scots are a well-traveled nation, as a lot of phrases in America come from Scottish origin. So it could quite be easy if somebody's been down there with their cookbook and dropped it, and somebody had a look at it and we'll leave it at that, anyway, I think.

BLOCK: Oh, you think a Scot went to England, made the haggis, it caught on, it all came from Scotland, though. You're sure of that.

Mr. PATRICK: All that still reminds, and I'm pretty sure of that, definitely.

BLOCK: This food historian, we should say, Catherine Brown, is a Scot.

Mr. PATRICK: I haven't heard of her before, certainly, but I thought with a name like Catherine Brown, she would be a Scot.

BLOCK: But as far as you're concerned, as a former world champion haggis maker, haggis is and always will be Scottish.

Mr. PATRICK: One hundred percent, totally.

BLOCK: Well, Robert Patrick, thanks so much for talking with us and setting us straight.

Mr. PATRICK: Not a problem. Thank you.

BLOCK: That's haggis-maker Robert Patrick of the butcher Patricks of Camelon in Falkirk, Scotland.

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