3 Aug 2009

Haggis an English dish, historian claims

8:57 pm on 3 August 2009

A haggis recipe was published in an English book almost 200 years before any evidence of the dish in Scotland, a food historian claims.

Catherine Brown told the Daily Telegraph that she found references to the dish inside a 1616 book called The English Hus-Wife by Gervase Markham.

The title would pre-date Robert Burns' famous poem Address To A Haggis by 171 years.

The 1786 poem is credited with making the dish famous, but Ms Brown said Markham's book indicates that haggis was first eaten in England and subsequently popularised by the Scots.

She told the newspaper that the first mention she could find of Scottish haggis was in 1747.

"It was originally an English dish. In 1615, Gervase Markham says that it is very popular among all people in England," she said.

"By the middle of the 18th century another English cookery writer, Hannah Glasse, has a recipe that she calls Scotch haggis, the haggis that we know today."

Not surprisingly, her claims have been dismissed by many Scots, the BBC reports.

James Macsween, whose company makes haggis, said even if the haggis was eaten in England long before Burns made it famous, Scotland has done a better job of looking after it.

Meanwhile, a Glasgow chef is trying to protect a less obviously Scottish treasure: chicken tikka masala.

The Ali family, owners of the Shish Mahal restaurant, is pressing the European Union to give it "Protected Designation of Origin" status, alongside the likes of champagne, parma ham and Greek feta cheese.

The family say they came up with the creamy, mildly spicy curry in the 1970s to please the Scots, but then it went on to become the most popular dish in British restaurants.