As many of you will know, tomorrow is the traditional date of Burns Night, the day on which a person of Scottish descent, and anyone else looking for a good excuse to down some fine malt whisky, celebrates all things Caledonian. Normally at this time of year the supermarket shelves in the UK are groaning under the weight of haggises great and small, and of all species, even the rare “vegetarian” haggis. This year, however, there was nothing. Zip. Nada. Not a haggis was to be had in all of Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s. I was worried. What could have happened?
Had there been some sort of mass extinction event? Had the unseasonably warm weather caused the poor wee beasties, unable to shed their thick, ginger pelts, to expire of heat exhaustion long before the hunting season started? Or was politics to blame? Had Westminster banned the import of Scotland’s national dish in retaliation for the Scots’ recent upsurge of interest in independence? Then again, it could be the economy. Perhaps some great haggis processing factory has gone out of business, beggaring a small Scottish town and threatening the livelihood of hundreds of haggis hunters who no longer had an easy outlet for their catches?
I knew that the Bath Sausage Shop generally has haggis for sale, but I didn’t have the time to get there before tomorrow night so I tried my local butcher. Much to my relief, they were well stocked. I came away with a small haggis which, the butcher assured me, had been caught in the mountains above Lock Muick and sold at market in Arboath. I’m looking forward to serving it with neeps, tatties and a dram or two of Jura Prophecy tomorrow. But I am still no closer to solving the mystery of the absence of haggis from English supermarket shelves. Can anyone explain it?