Thursday October 19, 2017

'Don't mock it until you try it': Scottish Haggis coming to Canada for 1st time in 5 decades

Haggises are seen ahead of the 2017 World Haggis Hurling Championships at Burns Cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Haggises are seen ahead of the 2017 World Haggis Hurling Championships at Burns Cottage in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. (Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

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Simon Bentall is pleased as punch he'll soon be able to sell genuine Scottish haggis to his customers.

For the first time in nearly 50 years, Scotland will start exporting haggis — a local delicacy — to Canada. 

"We pride ourselves on bringing over Scottish products," Bentall, the owner The Scottish Loft, in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont., told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"The one thing we have had trouble with all the time is haggis because it's been banned for just over 46 years now."

'You only live once, so try food you may not have experience with before.' - Simon Bentall, The Scottish Loft

The Scottish government says Scottish companies have been working to produce a haggis recipe for Canadians since Canada lifted its ban on red meat imports from Europe in 2015.

A traditional Scottish haggis is made with a sheep's heart, liver and lungs, along with oatmeal, suet and spices, often encased in the animal's stomach.

"I always say to people, don't mock it until you try it," he said. "You only live once, so try food you may not have experience with before."

Missing traditional ingredients

Still, Canadian haggis will be missing some key ingredients.

Canada has an import ban on offal — which includes the entrails and internal organs of an animal — so Macsween of Edinburgh has developed an offal-less version to export.

Haggis Imports 20171019

In this undated handout photo provided by Macsween, a worker prepares haggis at their factory near Edinburgh. For the first time in nearly 50 years Scotland will start exporting haggis to Canada. (Macsween/Canadian Press)

That doesn't sit well with Steve Allen, owner of Allen's Scottish Butchers in Toronto.

"I don't know how you could get the same sort of thing without the offal in there," he said. 

It's the lungs in particular that are essential to the proper preparation of a haggis, according to Allen.

"The lung actually makes the haggis fluffy and it gives it texture," he said.

But Bentall said the lung is just "one of the many ingredients" in haggis. 

"A lot of people do a little slight twist on it," he said. "It has a lot of flavour to it as well."

— With files from Canadian Press