Saturday, 25 January 2014

Hunt the Haggis.

This is an intimation that tomorrow is the start of the close season for Haggis Hunting.

Closed normally until the final day of November. Although I keep hearing recurring rumours that the 'First Minister' intends legislating to extend the 'hunt' by opening next year's season on the 14th September. A one-off measure to help either distract or complement any other extenuating business that might be pertinent on that date. It would appear to be a piece of legislation that is already creating some interest overseas. Without fail, we have been questioned about it by several interested parties. The Anglo-Argentines. A Walloon cyclist from Belgium. A Catalonian traveler from Spain and a Bavarian trucking couple from Germany. Even a Portland family from Oregon ask. Maybe there's a cessationist movement in the Pacific north west? The enquiry comes at the close of a conversation, always taking the same agenda; no definite article; "What's Scotland going to do?" It's rather heartening to realise that such a minor, curious beastie can raise so much international interest.

The major question, if the season were to be extended, is: Will the Scottish government introduce border controls on the export of frozen carcasses, and tariffs to prevent the importation of cheap foreign, ie, English imitations? If so, will these be traded in Anglo-Sterling or Scotii-Groats? The latter being, initially, of greater value, simply for it's short lived curiosity value and that no other currency would entertain it's toxic taint. The more minor questions of the Haggis' status within any European marketing organisation and it's views on foreign policy will be concluded at another time.

Thoughts on a date. Ruminations on a meat pudding that has it's own national day, all because an eighteenth century poet penned a grace, an appreciation in it's praise. Were it to happen today, it would take the form of a survey and the cynics in our midst would be questioning who the sponsors were; in all probability the 'Offal Meat Traders Association'.'

Another culinary delight, another artisanal speciality, another concoction that masks decaying, rancid, uneatable produce. Painch, Tripe or Thairm. The scrapings from the bottom of a 19th century salt barrel or the drawer at the back of a 21st century fridge. Spaghetti-bog, Irish stew, Stone soup. Every nation has it's equivalent. Yet only the Scots would describe their national dish as having a 'fair, full and jolly face', as well as: 'buttocks like a distant hillock'.

So in the interests of national pride and the fact that I'm an ex-pat abroad, I'll attempt to be more Caledonian that the Scot-at-Home. Only we're not in Canada, Australia or 'an ex-pink bit'. There's little demand for 'the great chieftain of the pudding race' on a Latino butcher's slab. We'll just have to settle for the local equivalent. And there in lies my problem.

Uruguayans eat beef. Fifty- three kilograms for each man, woman and child. The Beefs are on the hoof year round. So there's little call for a salt barrel. No scrapings. No cereal enhanced, slaughterhouse rendered, intestinal stuffed, sausage-like substance. So what happens to the leftovers? Well, there's always those dogs.

Hunting a Haggis Beyond the Pale