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Haggis Is English? A Scot Says It's Not

Butcher Robert Patrick, seen with his award-winning haggis, rejects the idea that haggis originated in England.
Press Association via AP Images
Butcher Robert Patrick, seen with his award-winning haggis, rejects the idea that haggis originated in England.

Food historian Catherine Brown's claim that the most Scottish of dishes, haggis, originated in England has prompted consternation from Aberdeen to Inverness. But former world champion haggis maker Robert Patrick is having none of it.

"As simple as apple pie is American ... haggis is Scottish," he tells Melissa Block. "End of story."

Haggis, a mixture of sheep innards — heart, liver and lungs — mixed with oatmeal, fat and spices, and cooked, ideally, in a sheep's stomach, is so much a part of Scottish tradition that the poet Robert Burns wrote an Address to a Haggis in 1786.

Brown, who is herself a Scot, says she has found a reference to haggis in an English cooking guide from 1615, predating any Scottish reference by more than a century.

"So she claims, anyway," says a skeptical Patrick, who won the haggis-making world championship in 2004 and was runner-up in 2007. "As we all know, Scots are a well-traveled nation. A lot of phrases in America come from Scottish origins. So it could quite easily be that somebody's been down there [to England] with their cookbook and dropped it."

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