We all know that there are two types of people in the world, the Scots and those who wish they were. In fact there are only about six million true blooded highland warriors and about six billion wannabees in the entire universe. We of the exalted pure bred are charged with the greater education of those who aren’t. And so correcting some of the many mistaken beliefs is a mandate we undertake with great pride but also with a little humility, as long as we are rewarded by an endless flow of Single Malt whiskey.
One of the greater outrages is the belief that Haggis is a meal served around the world on the twenty fifth of January to commemorate the birth of that great poet Rabbie Burns: nothing could be further from the truth. Burns was nothing more than the first author to fall under the spell of the creature who, in a drunken stupor, accidentally stepped on one, killing it and covering it all up by cooking it for the family in a way that completely disguised the implications of his mortal sin.
He drowned the great pudding in the nectar of the Gods to further hide his hideous act. For two hundred and fifty years the Burns travesty has created an impression of the wee beastie that is completely false.
What then is the great Haggis, and how has it infiltrated the entire universe?
It all started with the Haggis Prima, the original creature that came to being on the island Clar Innes, situated in the middle of that famous Scottish loch (lake to the unwashed) Loch Lomond, ancestral homeland of the Buchanan Clan.
It was a round wee thing about the size of volleyball, with a long nose and a tiny tail. It had four short legs that allowed it to scoot about in any direction without turning; it had two large eyes that changed color to match its surroundings; and it was covered with long matted fur that also changed color for protection.
The gene for color change was defective so that occasionally when it should have been the color of the grass it ran around in, it actually turned bright red and resulted in capture by hunters out shooting rabbits. Unfortunately the Haggis tasted wonderful and has ever since been considered a delicacy. Burns capitalized on this to deflect his murderous outburst.
But the creature was resilient. The Prima sought refuge in the highlands where it became known as the Mountain Haggis. This version had better genes, and it adapted very well to its new environment. Because it traveled around the mountains it evolved two longer legs on one side and it could run around very quickly. Unfortunately this change became a great weakness, almost causing the species to disappear.
Crafty highlanders watched the Haggis and noted the long legs were always on the outside and the short legs were on the inside. A strategy was developed to hide behind a large rock, and when the Haggis came running around the hunter jumped out in front of it causing it to turn around and scurry away in the opposite direction. Now the long legs were on the inside and the short ones on the outside. Inevitably the creature lost its balance and tumbled down the mountainside where it was quickly bashed on the nose and plopped into the cooking pot.
Some of these Mountain Haggis stowed away on the ships that took the expulsed highlanders to the new world, where they continued to adapt. For instance those that landed with the Selkirk settlers in Manitoba stood out in the snow and became easy prey. These evolved into large majestic white furry animals that roam the sub arctic north to this very day.
Another batch found themselves in the Everglades where they evolved into amphibians that slither around or just lie in the sun. Others found themselves in Australia where their long legs grew on the bottom with the short ones on top, and their short tails became enormous. A few years back one of the Aussies was discovered in South Africa, and when questioned about how it got there said (they are indeed multi lingual) he’d been competing in a hop, step and jump contest in the outback, and concluded that he must have won the event.
Finally, to defy once and for all the myth that the Haggis is just leftovers in a sheep’s stomach, Edinburgh’s “The Scotsman” newspaper runs an annual photo contest to capture images of the creature from around the world. In addition to people running through the woods with their digitals, CCTV cameras are used in major cities in the rare event of the Urbanian variety popping up. One such camera is located in Times Square, New York. Winners in this contest are published in the Scotsman at the end of the hunt season.
And there you have it, believe it or not!