Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eating With A Edinburgh, Scotland!!

Back in 2001 I had my first experience overseas abroad to Europe. I'd been "abroad" before, but I don't count Canada and Mexico as much - probably because they are connected to the US and I never went far.

So in 2001 I studied abroad in London for a summer session. Despite picking a location where I would be able to understand what they were saying, I was still very culture shocked. It was a rough first week and a half as I struggled to adjust but the weekend trip I got pulled into for Edinburgh, Scotland was a game changer. Several of my "flat mates" decided to hop a train and go and somehow, non-spontaneous me, went along with it as well, despite not having a set hotel reservation. (That thought scared the crap out of me...I hadn't had much hostel experience yet!)

Anyway, we get to Edinburgh and we get a hotel - I was instantly happier. Exploring the city was great, it is beautiful and it remains one of my favorite cities in the whole world to this day.

One adventure, however, was the morning we decided to go to the World's End Pub for a "traditional Scottish breakfast." We had gone to that pub the prior evening for some drinks (and also discovered the whiskey-flavored condom dispenser in the bathroom...only in Scotland!) One of the girls I was with noticed a sign in the corner for the traditional breakfast and stated we should go back in the morning. We didn't really know what we were in for but it sounded good so there we were!

We had already heard a lot of "haggis" jokes along our travels in Edinburgh. The locals like to tease the tourists about their famous dish. They kept telling us to try the haggis but would never, ever tell us what it was. Suuure...that makes me want to try it!! (This was also before we all had cell phones with Internet on it so we really were clueless).

So anyway, our breakfast platter arrives. There were eggs, two different forms of potatoes, toast, oatmeal, bacon, sausage, vegetables, milks, creams, teas, Scottish jams and preserves and orange juice. Lastly was the haggis, sitting there in all its haggis glory.

It was a grainy little brown cake, and we still had no idea what it really was. I remember my friend Joscelynn trying it first or second and stating it tasted like meatloaf. Slowly everyone started trying some of it, and even picky little me took a small fork-full. It did actually taste like meatloaf.

It was not until all 5 of us had tried a bite of the haggis that the waiter told us what this delicacy was. To paraphrase, "haggis is a dish containing the sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, beef fat, spices, and salt. It is also mixed with stock and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for a few hours." However, modern haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach. OH, thank you for THAT.

Well, needless to say, a few of us were pretty grossed out and upset about the description. I honestly don't know how I managed to finish eat the rest of my delicious breakfast but I did. At least I can say that I tried it, though I still shudder at the memory sometimes. I guess when you are young and don't have much experience abroad, something as unusual as that would freak you out a bit.

At least it was an experience. Scotland is also where I truly learned to drink tea the way they do in Great Britain - with milk and sugar. My first fried Mars bar was also consumed there. All in all, it's a great place to go and there are a lot of fun pubs to drink and eat at. Our favorite's were the World's End and Frankenstein's Pub.

But try the haggis at your own risk...

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