Haggis, neeps, tatties
Gravy drenched, squishy texture
This past Wednesday (5 October) marked one month since being here in Glasgow. (Woooooo!) I was hoping to get a celebratory blog post out there chronicling some of my favorite moments since arriving, but 1) that didn’t happen and 2) I feel like it would have made me a little more anxious to make a big hullabaloo about the passing of time. (I’m not a fan of this concept of having limited time here. I want to stay here forever.)
Anyway, from my home college, there are five of us studying abroad at the University of Glasgow this semester. We get to see each other once a week at our Scottish Enlightenment lecture, and maybe in passing considering three out of us five are living in the same student village. But we hadn’t actually sat down and spent some time just the five of us. And four of us had yet to try haggis.
I feel like it would have been a grave injustice to myself if I didn’t try haggis at one point while here in Scotland. It’d be like visiting Chicago for the first time and not having deep-dish pizza.
I’m pretty sure this is what is referred to as posh.
At the suggestion of some of my classmates, for our haggis-trying adventure, we decided to go to a restaurant in Ashton Lane (which has quickly become one of my favorite little places in Glasgow) called Ubiquitous Chip.
It was nice in there.
My piping teacher couldn’t help his reaction when I told him at my lesson that morning. “You’re going to the Chip, eh? That’s, uh, high-market dining right there…” Yeah, he wasn’t kidding.
When our orders of haggis arrived, it didn’t look anything like pictures I’d seen online.
It was a work of culinary visual art. The delicate little scoop on the left is the haggis, covered in gravy; on the right are the “neeps” and “tatties” — haggis is traditionally served with turnips (neeps) and potatoes (tatties). (But the Chip serves carrots, not turnips, so that’s what those little things are sticking out of the mashed potatoes.)
Now that I’ve shown a pretty picture of it, let me tell you what’s actually in there:
So, we dug in. We made sure to capture each other’s reactions, too. Here are my favorites:
(You can see the full album with more photos of our reactions here!)
“It’s like soaking meatloaf in water,” Emily said.
Wendy added, “And then spilling your entire spice rack on it.”
That’s it. That’s the way it tasted. That’s the most accurate description of the texture and flavor. I generally liked it — it’s just that the spices were incredibly strong, and the texture really threw me off. It was a lot softer than I was expecting — I was prepared for a firmer consistency to chew on. And part of me was a little dubious about this first experience trying haggis — was it really that authentic if it was so carefully put together and at such a high price? I’ve been in little hole-in-the-wall cafés and pubs where haggis is on the menu for half the price we paid at this restaurant.
But still, our time at Ubiquitous Chip was so enjoyable nonetheless. Just because I’m a foodie at heart, check out the rest of the “high-market dining” experience at the Chip:
And a lovely group shot of the five of us enjoying our time together!
Later that evening…
Though it was so fun to have such a lovely meal at a fancy restaurant, I know my wallet wouldn’t like it if I went to “the Chip” on a regular. And given my doubts about the authenticity of the haggis, I left the restaurant vowing to try haggis again another time in a different venue.
I was pleasantly surprised that that “another time” happened to be that very same evening.
That night, I went to a ceilidh. Goodness gracious, do I love dancing and do I love Scotland. This was my fifth time going to a ceilidh since being here in Glasgow! I can’t get enough. (Reminder that a ceilidh is similar to a barn dance.)
Anyway, at the ceilidh, they also served a buffet dinner. As luck would have it, the main entree just happened to be haggis, neeps, and tatties. And it wasn’t nearly as “high-market” as my meal at the Chip — given that the ceilidh was at a university, the buffet was similar to the Chartwells catering service we have back at my home college.
Believe it or not, I enjoyed this humble dish of haggis, neeps, and tatties a lot more than I did the high-end dish I was served at lunch. It wasn’t as saturated in spices and gravy as the haggis at the Chip was, the potatoes were quite delicious, and I actually got to have the “neeps” as opposed to the carrot chips that I had at lunch. The haggis itself was really actually satisfying. It was more of the consistency of minced sausage, and the flavor balanced out well with the mildness of the potatoes.
10/10, would try haggis again.
Granted, these were only two experiences with haggis, and they were a huge contrast to each other. I have a goal to eat it again sometime soon, maybe at those hole-in-the-wall cafés and pubs I mentioned earlier. Who knows. I’m no expert on Scottish dining. I just know I want to keep exposing myself to as much of Scottish culture and customs as I can while I’m here. I’m creating and checking off a mental list as I go: I’ve hiked a little through the highlands and Loch Lomond, I’ve visited the capital and quite a few Harry Potter landmarks, and I’m picking up on the little things about the culture here as I go along — the way people say “cheers” instead of “thank you”, “that’s all right” instead of “you’re welcome”, “see you” and not “goodbye”, “toilets” instead of “bathrooms”, and so many, many more. Maybe I’ll actually put together a physical list sometime. I haven’t had nearly as much time to blog as I’d like — I’m sitting on four unfinished drafts of blog posts as I type this. But I guess it’s a good problem to have that I haven’t been able to blog because I’m too busy enjoying all the things I’d be blogging about in the first place.
Haggis is great. Scotland is great. Studying abroad is great. Life is great. God is great. There’s just an uninterrupted stream of thanks constantly flowing in my head. I am so blessed to be here.