Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Macsween Haggis Bible - Jo Macsween

It's almost Burns night (25th January) so is the very height of haggis season. My personal appreciation of haggis came late in life but it's something I'm quite keen on these days. Burns night falls on a working Saturday for me this year so I'm forgoing any sort of formal celebration but there will likely be haggis anyway and it will be Macsween's (easily available south of the border and by far the nicest I've found) even if it's just the microwavable slices they do (brilliant invention) with an egg and on toast, rather than with neeps (turnips/swedes) and tatties (potatoes).

My partner, who made me eat haggis until I liked it, has always been a bit of a purist concerning the neeps and tatties until a magnificent haggis in a bun persuaded him that the rules could be relaxed slightly. I bought 'The Macsween Haggis Bible' the same day in the hope that I'd find lots of inspiration in it. Truthfully I don't think it's a brilliant book in terms of recipes. Delicious as haggis toasties or haggis in a baked tattie they hardly need explaining and a recipe for haggis lasagne which is basically lasagne with a little bit of haggis added to the mince underwhelmed me. On the other hand there's a lot of information about haggis generally - how best to cook it, what to drink with it, and things that go well with it which are both useful and interesting. There is also a vegetarian section for Macsween's also do a vegetarian haggis - it tastes nothing like the meaty version but is very good in its own right and is well worth exploring for those who don't like the idea of the real thing, or of course for vegetarians.

Burns night feels like it's becoming increasingly popular in England, I have more and more people asking me about whisky for it every year as well as looking for a good wine match, the end of January is a good time for a bit of a celebration of anything so be it Robert Burns or haggis itself I'm all for it. I'm also all for celebrations of traditional foods though one of the things I like about this series is that it celebrates iconic brands as much as the actual product they make - not just haggis but Macsween's Haggis (and Stornaway black pudding which is also easily the best black pudding I've ever tried). So all in all what I'm trying to say is that this is a book that's worth having a look at and haggis is a food worth exploring.


  1. It's almost like a celebration of adult tastes, isn't it -- those strong, bloodier, earthy foods. It was my great joy to stay in student accommodation in Edinburgh two years ago for a conference where the refectory breakfast featured all sorts of Scottish treats like haggis and black pudding on the breakfast menu. Mind you, many of the others there were mostly looking on in horror!

  2. I agree with the adult tastes, I'm still not good with offal but if you hide it in a sausage it's basically a goer. What I don't understand are people who will happily eat exotic foreign sausages but turn their noses up at something like a black pudding. I seem to have talked about sausages a lot over the last few days.