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When the name haggis comes up in conversation, or in Anglophenia posts, people seem to shy away, but really, if you like sausage or meatloaf, it’s not that scary. The Scottish delicacy is cooked in a casing made out of the stomach lining, which is probably what turns people off. But you don’t eat the casing. When you think about it, it’s meat cooked in meat versus plastic tubing like some sausage. Now that we’ve covered that, traditional Scottish haggis is made up of sheep’s innards, including heart, liver and lungs, which is mixed with oatmeal, onion, and spices.

We wanted to try haggis ourselves and see what others thought of it, but there was a slight problem … Scottish haggis has been banned in the U.S. since 1971 due to the use of sheep lungs. With that said, we got our hands on the most authentic haggis we could find from St. Andrews Restaurant in NYC, located at 140 West 46th Street. The restaurant gets the uncooked haggis from Stewart’s Scottish Market in Kearny, NJ, which has a huge Scottish population.

We called on our BBCA co-workers to take part in the taste test. Some of the peeps had had it before, and some were newbies. Some were gung ho, and others were hesitant (that’s an understatement).

Here’s what went down:

(Helen Donahue)
St. Andrews’ haggis dish comes with “neeps” and “tatties,” which are short for turnips and potatoes. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
(Helen Donahue)
We divvied up the dish into tasting cups. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
Here’s a look at the haggis on its own, sans tats and nips. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
We're armed and ready to dig in. (Helen Donahue)
We’re armed and ready to dig in. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)

Taste Test.jog

“It’s different.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“It tastes like shepherd’s pie with lamb.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“Fun breakfast, no better way to start your day.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“Very near lamb sausage, or something well prepared.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“I don’t taste the stomach lining.” See intro: You don’t eat the casing. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
He walks away muttering to himself, “It is strong.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“I don’t like it.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“I have to eat cold haggis?” In our defense: it was hot when we started. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“It’s the fishy thing I don’t like.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
We have a Scottish native in the house, “This is not good haggis.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
She expands on her initial reaction, saying, “Haggis in Scotland is typically much spicier. Now, I’m on the hunt.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“Tastes like mashed potatoes.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“Fishy mashed potatoes.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
(Kimberly Truong)
“Guys, this isn’t Fear Factor.” (Photo Credit: Kimberly Truong)
(Kimberly Truoung)
“The texture reminds me of cat food.” (Photo Credit: Kimberly Truong)
“It’s not my meal of choice.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“But everyone should try it once.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“If I didn’t know what it was, I’d like it more.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
Even so, she goes back in for seconds. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“My friend has been talking about haggis since going to Scotland. I wanted to try it.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“It’s pretty good!” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
“Okay,” said hesitantly. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
Relieved she breathes out, “It’s just mushed up meat! I’m glad we found out what the neeps were.” (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
While some taste testers were hesitant, every single cup was eaten. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)
Salt might be a needed accompaniment in some cases. (Photo Credit: Helen Donahue)

The taste testers came into the tasting with preconceived notions based on what they had already heard about the Scottish delicacy. Even so, people lined up to dig in, and it turns out the St. Andrews’ haggis seemed to be a little mild compared to what was expected, and dishes eaten in Scotland. The dish we tasted had a similar consistency to corned beef hash, but more “plucky.” It definitely takes more than one bite to get the full effect.

Have you had haggis in the states? What did you think?

See More: 
Anglo-Kitchen Taste Test: What Does Marmite Taste Like?
Anglophenia Web Series: Nine British Dishes Everyone Should Try
Why are ‘Biscuits’ Different in Britain?

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By Brigid Brown