Och aye! Axminster does the Highland thing
09:22 17 January 2013
Local butchers Complete Meats use a secret recipe to make their version of the famous Scottish haggis
A secret recipe is being used to give a Scottish gourmet dish a little taste of Axminster.
Butchers Complete Meats, of South Street, have been busy preparing dozens of haggis ready for this month’s traditional Burns night celebrations.
Manager Paul Apsey says their version may be made by Sassenachs but it is created with only the finest authentic ingredients.
And since they started producing them several years ago they have become a firm favourite with local residents.
“It’s not just the Scots who buy them,” said Paul. “They are popular with lots of people. We even sell a few at Christmas now.”
A standard 1lb version of the Axminster-made haggis costs £4.99 but they can be purchased in sizes up to 4lbs and there is also a ‘bite-size’ individual portion for £1.25.
Haggis is traditionally eaten by the Scots on Burns Night, each January 25, which celebrates the birthday, in 1759, of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns.
In its simplest form the celebration involves eating a special meal of haggis, “neeps and tatties” - with which whisky is drunk.
Haggis traditionally contains chopped mutton, including the liver and heart, oatmeal, suet, and spices traditionally encased in sheep’s gut which is boiled before being served with a mixture of vegetables, usually mashed turnips (neeps) and potatoes - “tatties”.
This is sometimes followed by readings from Burns’ poems and the singing of Scottish songs, notably of Burns’ verses set to music such as “The Banks of Doon”.
At larger, more formal gatherings the evening takes on a ceremonial ritual. When the guests are seated for the banquet, a piper pipes in the haggis which is placed on the head table. At this point, the Master of Ceremonies stands up to “address” the haggis, reciting Burns’ celebratory “Ode to the Haggis”, before cutting it with a skean dhu - a Scottish dagger, still traditionally worn with Highland dress - and passing it around to be eaten.
Throughout the proceedings, whisky is drunk in considerable quantities to honour a poet well known for his conviviality.
A verse to the haggis:
The haggis is a vicious breed,
With habits like the sloth,
It builds its nest from Harris Tweed,
And strips of tartan cloth.
It only ventures out at night
And hunts in packs like dogs.
It gives a green & ghastly light
And makes a noise like frogs.
The natives catch them by their tails
To dodge their beating wings
Then fix a clothes peg on their nose
And eat the blooming things.
By J. G. Robinson. Glasgow.
To a visitor coming to Scotland
A number of problems befall
And the aura surrounding the haggis
Is surely the strangest of all.
At first you’re a little suspicious
At some of the stories you get
But suspicion will vanish forever
The moment you’ve actually met.
With a haggis defending it’s litter
It’s wee tartan back to the wall
Emitting it’s war-cry of Crimond
And rolling itself in a ball.
That would, of course be the female
The male is out looking for food
Consisting of heather or whisky
Depending , of course, on it’s mood.
This accounts for it’s worried expression
It’s mottled appearance to match
And also a kind of neurosis
Which makes it a devil to catch
That it’s going to be made into bagpipes
The haggis is certain to know
But what worries it deeply is knowing
Where the Chanter will finally go!
So it hides in the highlands of Scotland
Completely enveloped in peat
Except that it’s always inverted
So all you can see is its feet.
There’s only one method of captive –
(invented by Wallace it’s said)
You tickle it’s toes with a pibrock
And leave it to laugh till it’s dead!
The haggis is thereby undamaged
No bullet holes marring it’s skin
And the poor little thing has died happy
It’s face in a hideous grin.
The female’s then easy to deal with
Provided her mate is done first
Just show her the death in the paper
She’ll almost immediately burst
Which is messy, but really no matter
It’s all to the good when you know
The various uses of haggis
Set out in the couplet below.
The male is converted to bagpipes
The female is boiled in a pot
The children are made into golf balls
And that, dear friends, is the lot.