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Haggis Hunting

November 2000

This thread was suggested, and intitially compiled, by Toni Maxwell.

Subject: Re: [I] 'manky' food
Date: 22 Nov 2000
From: Tom Saul

Hmmm, just try that one with me - someone who enjoys haggis[1] and knows very well what's in it. I'll eat just about anything that can't run off the plate .

[1] Wild haggis, that is. The farmed ones have no taste, IMHO. I'll tell you this - they're a bugger to catch.

Date: 23 Nov 2000
From: Jonathan Ellis

Well, if you're chasing after them, that's hardly surprising. Try and leap out in front of one instead of running along behind it. If you can successfully scare it, it'll try to turn round and run away - which is not a good idea for a hill-dwelling creature with the legs on one side longer than on the other. (You should presumably have already found out whether this is of the Clockwise or Anticlockwise breed, and try to force it to run in the opposite direction.) Of course, you have to arrange for someone else to be at the bottom of the hill to catch it as it rolls downhill.

And this strategy is also risky, because if you don't scare the haggis you'll make it angry instead, and it might charge you. In which case, of course, you have to dive out the way, and the result is that your friend at the bottom of the hill has to catch you instead of the haggis...

From: David Ferguson

Yes, they can be a bugger to catch, which is why I buy them from my local game stockist. Let some other twit spend the evening on the hill trying to grab them in the few hours of dusk they're generally about for. I do agree that the farmed ones are a tad bland though. Lets face it, they feed them grain and all kinds of rubbish. Decent free-range heather-fed haggis, that's what you want.

Course, there is an easy way (though technically illegal)(then again, haggis is always best when poached). Fill a large basin with whisky and stick it in the ground so the rim is at ground level. Wild haggi can't resist the stuff, and once they've drunk their fill, they generally just sit there. The only problem with this method is the cost of the whisky, although I understand some species will accept blends. (note, for the extremely rare West Highland Pale, try Drambuie)

From: Lady Kayla

It might work, but there is a cheaper way. You see, haggis live on hillsides, and over the generations they have evolved so that one leg is shorter than the other. This means that they can run around the hill faster. What you do (you'll need a partner for this method) is watch the little beastie to see which way it runs around the hill. Get ahead of it and hide. Then as it comes towards you, jump out right in front of it. The poor thing will be so startled that it will try to turn around and run the other way. Of course, now the shorter leg is on the downhill side. It will fall and roll down the hill to where your partner (I told you that you'd need a partner for this) is waiting with a sack. Presto, one ready to cook, wild haggis.

Date: 24 Nov 2000
From: Jonathan Ellis

Which was exactly the way I outlined three posts ago. But you can have problems with this if the haggis isn't scared enough by your sudden appearance to turn around... which is when you either (a) get trampled, or (b) have to dive out of the way, probably missing your footing and rolling down the hill yourself, and hope that your friend can tell the difference between you and a haggis. Things can also get particularly risky if you're on a hill where both the Anticlockwise and Clockwise breeds live: trying to leap out in front of a Clockwise one, only to have an Anticlockwise one sneak up behind you instead, is not necessarily a good idea. :-)

Date: 25 Nov 2000
From: Tom Saul

I tried that one. How was I to know that the hill I'd chosen was the site of a GM haggis trial. Not only did that d*mn thing have equal-sized legs, but it also had spiky teeth. I had to flail it against a handy tree to get it to let go.

Now that my haggis wounds are healing I've found another method for catching the little beasties; There is a device known as the HaggiVac(tm). It's used only for the burrowing species. What you do it coat the end of the HaggiVac(tm) with single malt (as a lure), then stuff the end into the burrow. When you hear the scrabbling of the haggis coming to investigate the smell, flip the on-switch. The haggis is sucked up into the Teflon-coated holding box. You can then use the built-in stun gun to immobilise it.

Of course you could dynamite the burrow, but that tends to cause comment.

Date: 27 Nov 2000
From: David Ferguson

oh it does. Allegedly. Means you have to scrape the haggi (often more than one to a burrow) from the scenery too. Haggi should be cookery, not geography.

From: Richard Bos

Is this actually possible? I'd have thought that having both kinds of Haggis on one hill would be a recipe for disaster, with the different breeds attacking each other, and either Clock- or Counterclockwise ending up on top (though not, probably, literally, since that would make it hard for them to walk). They're bound to encounter one another sooner or later, after all.

From: Natalie Watson

Obviously, this on this particular hill, the haggis' (or haggisi?) have adapted to each other's presence, and surely must have developed some sophisticated method of getting round each other. Organic traffic lights?

From: Jonathan Ellis

> I'd have thought that having both kinds of Haggis on one hill would be a recipe for disaster

Rare, yes, but it has been known to occur naturally in three different locations. The two breeds seem to coexist fairly well (as either is capable of stepping either up or down the hill to avoid its rival), though there are always examples of head-on collision - whether this is due to actual conflict (over food, territory or mating), or the haggis's legendary short-sightedness, is unknown at the moment. The existence of the rare "valley" haggis, whose legs are all the same length and which consequently lives on flat land, is a peculiar phenomenon thought to derive from, erm, other encounters between members of the two more standard breeds: however, as their alternative name of "mule" haggis would indicate, such a cross-breed is unfortunately sterile.

From: Peter Ellis

> thought to derive from, erm, other encounters.....

This would seem to indicate that the haggi have very deep throats...

Date: 28 Nov 2000
From: Miq

> I'd have thought that having both kinds of Haggis on one hill would be a recipe for disaster

No, they just live at different levels of the hill. The Turnwise one might be, say, in the area within 50m vertically of the summit, the Widdershins one would keep to the lower slopes.

There's still a considerable risk for the unwary haggis-hunter, of course. A haggis so close to the territory of another of its kind is likely to be nervous, and I for one would hate to be on the business end of a wired haggis.

From: Adrian Ogden

> This would seem to indicate that the haggi have very deep throats...

In order to accommodate... well, quite. However, it would seem that haggi are not exceptionally endowed in this area. For any hillside creature with one set of legs longer than the other, the "swing" factor is liable to cause serious upset to its centre of gravity, not to mention the vulnerability to serious abrasions on one side.

From: Richard Bos

Never mind the question of how such a cross-breed could occur. I want to know where it finds enough flat ground to stand on!

From: Miq

> the haggis' (or haggisi?)

Haggisim. HTH.

Date: 04 Dec 2000
From: Axel Kielhorn

This looks like a hebrew plural form to me. Is the haggis kosher?

From: David Chapman

Lamb is, so I think the haggis is.

From: Tom Saul

Hmmm, looking at the label of the (farmed) haggis I have it says it contains pork as the main ingredient.

From: the_peanut_gallery

Anyway, you shouldn't be encouraging battery farming. Don't you know they saw off the feet on the long-legged side so's the poor beasties don't fall over in the nasty, little, and above all horizontally-floored cages they're expected to live their brief sunless lives in?

From: David Ferguson

Haggisim is indeed only valid for kosher haggis (available from some butchers. I believe that it is impossible for truly wild haggis to be kosher as there is no way to control what they eat. Viscious little scavengers that they are. Plurals normally used up here in the highlands are haggi or haggis.

From: Suzi

Does the Haggis have the same hoof/foot structure as a sheep then? (Sorry, never having been North of the Border I wouldn't know.)

Date: 5 Dec 2000
From: Jean S and/or Jeff C

> you shouldn't be encouraging battery farming.

Yeah! Be sensible and farm them in nasty, little sunless cages on your roof for Bog's sake. At least they won't keep falling over, and you'll have a saving on saw blades!

From: Grymma

> Does the Haggis have the same hoof/foot structure as a sheep

D'you know, in all the times I've seen 'em, I was too busy marvelling at their arrangement of two short legs and two long legs, to take notice of their actual hooves/feet?

Sad to see pictures of the Greater Haggis, hunted to extinction by the Black Watch, of course. If only the WWF had been around in those days...

From: Kincaid

The way I heard it was that it was self defence, the BW were out marching in the highlands and the Greater Haggis decided to try them for supper. In the resulting battle (site unknown, sadly) the entire population, being gathered in one valley for the breeding season, attacked the BW, and were wiped out.

From: Grymma

Well, yes, but I'm sure that's not how the WWF (or the Haggis, come to that) would view it. History is only one sides' opinion, after all.

David Attenborough wouldn't have gone barging onto the breeding ground like that...

From: Lister

ahhhhhh, a new sport, Haggis Wrestling :P

From: Grymma

Sweaty little sharptoothed devils, so damned hard to hold onto... and I don't play with my food, because Mother said it was Wrong. :sniff:

(Please tell me I'm correct in thinking that WWF also stands for World Wide Fund for Nature, as well as the choreographed grunting thing?)

From: Tom Saul

Anyway, isn't haggis short for "anything we had left over and would fit in the mincer"?

From: Grymma

I thought that phrase was reserved for the doner kebab?

From: Richard Eney

Haggis is anything cooked in a baglike container.

Date: 6 Dec 2000
From: Adrian Ogden

> Does the Haggis have the same hoof/foot structure as a sheep

Their fleece, indeed, is far superior. Garments made of haggis wool are extremely rare, however, and thus highly prized. The haggis is smaller than a sheep and thus yields less wool to begin with, but more significant is the impracticality of acquiring it. The difficulties of hunting the beasts individually have already been discussed; the further difficulties of holding one of the vicious little bastards long enough to shear it are best left to the imagination. As such, haggis tend to yield only a single fleece after they have been dispatched.

In the distant past haggis wool garments were a status symbol, worn by the haggis hunters as an indication of how many kills they had made. With haggis hunting now in decline and only continued in the most remote communities the wool of the wild haggis has become highly sought after by connoisseurs; in the wider world haggis wool has fallen into disrepute owing to the farming of battery haggis, whose fleece is now so compromised as to be just not worth considering.

From: John Wilkins

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the sporran is the scalp of a haggis, and that it was worn to denote that the wearer had passed through the highland manhood ceremonies by killing a wild haggis armed only with his teeth.

From: David Ferguson

Well what else would you expect a haggis to be armed with?

From: David Chapman

This is a rural legend. No proof of manhood is required in a land where the men wear skirts with no underwear and the thistles grow waist high.

From: David Chapman

> I thought that phrase was reserved for the doner kebab?

No, it's called the doner kebab because anyone in their right mind wants to give it away.

From: Kincaid

> Haggis is anything cooked in a baglike container.

You mean, like "Uncle Bens boil in the bag long grain haggis"?

From: Annette Fraser

So a Christmas Pudding (boiled in the cloth) is a variant of haggis?

At this point in the proceedings, readers began to suspect they were seeing double. A case of great minds think alike? Or what about that quote regarding the statistical possibility of fools differing?

From: Gid Holyoake

and also...

From: Rocky Frisco

Much to his Mum and Dad's dismay
Horace ate himself one day.
He didn't stop to say his grace,
He just sat down and ate his face.
"We can't have this!" his Dad declared,
"If that lad's ate, he should be shared."
But even as he spoke they saw
Horace eating more and more:
First his legs and then his thighs,
His arms, his nose, his hair, his eyes...
"Stop him someone!" Mother cried
"Those eyeballs would be better fried!"
But all too late, for they were gone,
And he had started on his dong...
"Oh! foolish child!" the father mourns
"You could have deep-fried that with prawns
Some parsley and some tartar sauce..."
But H. was on his second course:
His liver and his lights and lung,
His ears, his neck, his chin, his tongue;
To think I raised him from the cot
And now he's going to scoff the lot!"
His Mother cried: "What shall we do?
What's left won't even make a stew..."
And as she wept, her son was seen
To eat his head, his heart, his spleen.
And there he lay: a boy no more,
Just a stomach, on the floor...
None the less, since it was his
They ate it - that's what haggis is.

But only Gid coughed up when he admitted "Right.. that's my donation to the MP quote-fine fund fulfilled for this year.."

Date: 7 Dec 2000
From: Jens Birren

The Scots word for "pudding"? To become even more [I]: When living in a student flat, a common occurrence was to look in the fridge and find nothing but ming [1]. We would then exclaim "Oh, I'll have to haggis this"- meaning, chop it up till it was unrecognisable, wrap it in something, and cook it until it became (a) inedible or (b) edible. A second common occurrence was to say "No, can't be haggised. Who fancies some chips?". I still sometimes use haggised to mean, well, hedgehogged. (BTW I think haggis is the collective noun- one hag, two haggi, a pack of haggis. It is used as the term for a cooked hag to confuse people, or possibly make them feel less cannibalistic.)

[1] Backformation from Mancunian "minging", meaning more or less "manky". Another common food item amongst us was "Chicken A La Ming".

From: Natalie Watson

And if you leave the chicken in the fridge a little longer, it will eventually mang, the worst possible sort of ming, which mong and mung being slightly better, and meng being in between.

Date: 8 Dec 2000
From: John Winters

>So a Christmas Pudding (boiled in the cloth) is a variant of haggis?

No, wild Christmas puddings have legs of equal length.

Date: 9 Dec 2000
From: Axel Kielhorn

> looking at the label of the (farmed) haggis I have it says it contains pork as the main ingredient.

That doesn't surprise me. Feeding ground up pigs to the haggisim, didn't they learn anything from BSE. What's next? The Mad Haggis Disease?

Another reason to eat only the wild haggis.

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