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Haggis import ban to be lifted by U.S.

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Haggis import ban to be lifted by U.S.

Burns Night boost for offal Scottish dish

  • A haggis is carried to the table at a Burns Night dinner.
    roland/flickrA haggis is carried to the table at a Burns Night dinner.
  • Piping in the haggis for Burns Night.
    Flintlocker/flickrPiping in the haggis for Burns Night.
  • A portrait of Robert Burns.
    Library of Congress/flickrA portrait of Robert Burns.

Haggis, the traditional Scottish dish made from minced sheep offal, oatmeal and spices, may soon be allowed back into the U.S.

Banned 21 years ago because of concerns about BSE (the infamous mad cow disease), haggis will be legal to import again, according to reports in British media.

Import of the "great chieftan o' the puddin-race" - as poet Robert Burns put it - was banned in 1989 when officials raised concerns that the miced offal and mashed sheep lung could be deadly.

Americans have had to make due with what many Burns and whisky aficianados, including this one, consider to be an inferior substitute made of beef.

From The Guardian:

Some refined foodies might insist it always has been and always will be: in the words of Robert Burns, in his Ode to a Haggis, looking "down wi' sneering, scornfu' view on sic a dinner". But now, as millions of Scots around the world prepare to celebrate Burns's legacy tonight with an elaborate, whisky-fuelled pageant to a boiled bag of sheep innards, oatmeal, suet and pepper, its reputation has been restored, on health grounds at least.

For the past two decades, Americans of Scottish descent ‑ of whom there are at least 6 million ‑ have been forced to celebrate Burns' night without a true haggis, much to their distress.

There are stories of Scots smuggling in a haggis for their starving cousins, risking deportation in the process. Others are said to have secretly tried to create homemade, bootleg haggis, desperate to sample that particularly peppery concoction.

Meanwhile, butchers in the US have tried, and failed, to make their own versions of the pudding without using the vital ingredient: sheep. "It was a silly ban which meant a lot of people have never tasted the real thing," said Margaret Frost, of the Scottish American Society in Ohio. "We have had to put up with the US version, which is made from beef and is bloody awful."

The Telegraph reports that the Department of Agriculture is drawing up new import regulations on haggis.

A spokeswoman for the United States Department of Agriculture told the Sunday Times newspaper it was reviewing its regulations in line with a ruling from the the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that sheep lung is safe.
The spokeswoman said: ''At this time, there are regulations being drafted.

''By closely aligning our import rules with the OIE, we will allow the importation of certain ruminant products that do not contain tissues associated with BSE infectivity or ruminants raised under conditions where they were not fed prohibited materials associated with spreading BSE.''

The ceremonial serving of a haggis is an integral part of the annual celebration of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, generally on the bard's birthday, Jan. 25.

A Burns Night dinner begins with a whisky toast to the Scottish sausage, and revolves around the Scots poetry of Burns. The format of Burns Night dinners remains unchanged since the first, held in 1802.

Tucson's Burns dinner was held Saturday, Jan. 23 by the Southern Arizona Scottish Society.

Burns, who lived from 1759 to 1796, was the author of such renowned poems as "Auld Lang Syne," "Tam O'Shanter" and "A Man's a Man for A'That."

Dylan Smith is an avid fan of authentic haggis, so long as it’s accompanied by a smoky single malt.

Address to a haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit" hums.

Is there that o're his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whistle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thristle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

- Robert Burns

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