What Is Haggis?

haggis Credit: Helena Smith/Doring Kindersley/Getty Images

Haggis is one of Scotland's most famous national dishes and consists of a round, large sausage that comes from the lungs, heart and liver of a sheep that have been mixed with mutton suet or beef with oatmeal, with the whole mixture seasoned with cayenne pepper and onion, among other things. Once this has all been done, the mixture goes into a sheep's stomach in which it is boiled. Mashed potatoes and turnips are the customary sides for haggis, and diners down Scotch whisky to wash it down the hatch.

Haggis traditionally appears on tables as part of the commemoration activities for Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, which take place during the week of Jan. 25. His poem "Address to a Haggis" is often read during these celebrations; the dish was a common staple of the poor during Burns' lifetime, because the meal was nourishing while also inexpensive, as it came from those portions of a sheep that otherwise would have been discarded.

There is a legend that the original haggis was an animal indigenous to Scotland featuring two longer legs on one side allowing it to traipse through the Scottish highlands without tipping over. This is a hoax mostly used to trick tourists.