Mars bars and Haggis – Enjoying the Scottish Meal

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On our second night in Scotland, I did something absolutely inexcusable: I went out without my camera. As luck would have it, that was also the night that we had our big pub dinner. I know, I know. This is a horrible offense, especially when at least one member of your party plans to eat haggis (and you plan to try to convince your toddler to do likewise). An experience like that should involve photo and video.

Cider. Photo by Simon Jarvis.

We went to the restaurant Whiski, which was definitely more of a bar atmosphere than we had expected. A note on eating in Scotland: it is quite possible to find restaurants that allow children, but if you want a pub experience you are seriously limited. Children are not allowed in actual bars in Scotland (I haven’t figured out what the zoning/classification system is like) so you may need to go with a more restaurant-style business, complete with tchotchkes on the wall and a kids’ menu. Whiski was pleasantly bar-like, even though we went in the late afternoon to keep the babies out of the full-blown Edinburgh party scene.

Sadly, no one in our party was really into spirits so we didn’t sample any whiskey. I can absolutely recommend the Thistly Cross Cider, though; the strawberry mix tasted crisp and sweet but not cloying like many flavored ciders can. It was summer in a bottle, and perfect for washing down the bite of haggis I snuck off my husband’s plate.

Haggis. Image by zoonabar.

Ah, the infamous haggis; you know, I’m not sure why it gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver mixed with spices and cooked in a stomach, but…that’s not so much scarier than sausage. It’s definitely not as scary as the pink slime beef we’ve been hearing about in the American news. This haggis tasted like someone had added a touch of mint to the spices, and the flavor was quite enjoyable. I didn’t care for the crumbly texture, but it was not a scary experience. Cooked in a sausage casing, it would have been delightful.

We left with full bellies, but we made a hike up the Royal Mile to a little hole-in-the-wall place that was half-deep fryer for another Scottish classic: the fried Mars bar. According to Wikipedia, the fried Mars bar wasn’t quite a true classic until media stories focusing on the questionable dietary habits of Scots surfaced; obviously, the Mars bar took off in popularity.

Fried Mars bar. image by John Shultis.

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