English Historian Claims Haggis

Hands off the Haggis

Hands off the Haggis

An English food historian has declared Haggis as an English delicacy, claiming the Scottish origins of the dish are as “made up” as tartan. Peter Brears has described Haggis as a ‘fine English dish’ in his new book Traditional Food in Northumbria, stating the food was made throughout England from the late 14th Century.

Brears said the earliest recipe he found was from a English book dated 1390 called The Forme of Cury, which means ‘the art of cooking’.  Traditionally made from a mixture of oatmeal, liver, heart and lungs, the south of the border version is quite different. “Newcastle haggis has got fruit, oatmeal, suet and meat in and you could get this in the Grainger Market.”

He also said that the Scots decided they would make Haggis their own when they needed a national identity. He said: “Basically, the Scots association with Haggis is as authentic as the tartan. With the revival of Scotch culture, tartan designs were brought back, which were said to be authentic, but in reality they had been newly invented. The association of haggis as the Scottish national dish is really a product of the Scottish revival of the 1820s.”

Haggis expert, Jo Macsween from the renowned haggis producer Macsween of Edinburgh, said the dish was a global phenomenon with a rightful place in Scottish culture. “When I talk to people around the world about haggis, I get the same reply – ‘Oh, we call it la la in our country because it equates to something indigenous’. I do not think it is English per se – it is global.”

She added: “No one in Scotland can claim to have invented haggis, but we made it was it is today. We put it on the map.”

This is not the first time England and Scotland have battled over Haggis. In 2008 Scottish Haggis makers leapt to the defence of the national dish when another English food historian named Catherine Brown claimed she found references to the dish in a book called The English Hus-Wife from 1615. She said the first mention she could find of Scottish Haggis was in 1747.

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About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

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