Tempest In a Haggis: New York Times Op-Ed Weighs In


If you have missed the biggest scandal of the summer, let us catch you up: The earliest known haggis recipe has been discovered in an 1615 English cookbook, and now claims are being made that haggis, that oats-and-offal pudding cooked in a sheep’s stomach, is not Scottish, but British in origin.

Former haggis-maker of the year Robert Patrick, told the Guardian that “I am sure the customers will be as upset as me to think that England will steal our recipe.” (Read the comments on that article for a closer look into the psyche of haggis partisans.)

And today, there’s an op-ed in the New York Times by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith, claiming that the very notion that haggis was invented by the English is ridiculous. He reasons that, back then, the Scottish would not have needed a recipe for haggis–everyone knew how to make it.

But if further proof is required, then it is there in abundance. English cuisine has always been very open to foreign influences, and still is. If one looks at contemporary English cookbook writers, what do they write about? French food, Indian food, Chinese food — anything but English food. And it was ever thus. So it is no surprise that early 17th-century English food writers should have written about exotic Scottish dishes rather than English ones. This is what these people have always done.


[New York Times]

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