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Haggis Smuggling Soon, but Not This Year?

Arrangements to bring them haggis south from Scotland next week to the Burns Supper at Milton Malsor are proceeding without any need for smuggling ... not so lucky elsewhere in the world it seems from the Press Release fielded in New Zealand by Household Member Dr Hans Maurer and reproduced below.

The guest list acceptance file is growing daily, and now includes Park cousins from Bedfordshire and Household Members from Canada and Guernsey as well as north and south of the border.

Expatriate Scots Forced Into Haggis Smuggling

Expatriate Scots from the U.S. to Australia are being forced into the shadowy world of international haggis smuggling to ensure the real McCoy arrives at the dinner table for the traditional Burns Night Supper.

The January 25 knees-up in honor of Scotland's best-loved bard, Robert 'Rabbie' Burns, is celebrated across the globe by the millions who trace their roots back to the ancient Highland nation. But the real centerpiece of the whisky-fuelled supper -- the haggis, lauded in Burns' earthy address to the 'great chieftain o' the puddin' race' -- is often left out in the cold because of import bans on its offal-based ingredients.

Refusing to see a 200-year-old ceremony succumb to the 21st century's taste for food scares, many haggis lovers aching for the authentic taste of their homeland are setting up their own clandestine shipments.

"We tell all our customers about the bans, but once they've bought a haggis, it's up to them. I'm sure many haggis find their way through customs in the bottom of suitcases," said Edinburgh-based haggis aficiando Jo Macsween. Her family-run business, seen by many as being to haggis what Haagen Dazs is to ice cream, has been working flat out since the beginning of December for the biggest night in the haggis calendar.

But Scots in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and Switzerland will never see a juicy Scottish haggis on supermarket shelves due to import bans on the dish, traditionally made from boiled up lamb, beef and oatmeal stuffed into a cow's intestine.

There have even been requests to send food parcels to addresses in France near the border with Switzerland for haggis-hungry Swiss to pick up in secret.

"There is huge demand in the U.S. But half of me is almost happy the ban is there -- otherwise we wouldn't be able to cope," Macsween said. Haggis hybrids have started to emerge as a result of the authorities' distaste for offal, including hugely popular vegetarian numbers and even a U.S. 'Hawaiian-style' haggis made of a deboned chicken stuffed with pineapple and ham, Macsween said.

It has also opened up a lucrative market for local haggis makers. Charles Lamb, an Oregon-based butcher, is doing a roaring trade in U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved dishes, but says it's a shame Americans can't taste the real thing. "Everything that's in a haggis is in a hotdog," Lamb said. And if public paranoia over what is and is not safe to eat should ever threaten the haggis' existence in its homeland?

"If they did anything to ban haggis, Scotland would rise again. You can't tamper with our national dish," Macsween said.

Published Date: January 12th 2001

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