28/03/2012

Hadrian's Wall

What have the Romans done for us?

Hadrian's Wall is a curtain wall fortification built coast to coast across the English width, from Wallsend on Tyneside to the Solway Firth in Cumbria, for the purpose of keeping the Picts out of Roman Britain.

Follow the A69 today, and you'll see much of the wall. Still there, today, as imposing today as it was then.

Tonight was haggis! I adore haggis and the un-paleo fact that it has barley and oatmeal in is not even a blip on my radar! I love haggis more than I love paleo and ... it doesn't set my heartburn off, at all! One piece of wholemeal bread and I'm puking up nuclear heartburn inside of an hour ... haggis, nothing.

N=1?

Haggis is a curious animal ... native to both lowland and highland Scotland, the native haggis is an elusive beast. Many claim it does not actually exist as a creature outside of folklore and reckon that it is a made-up beast, from lungs, heart and so on of lesser creatures like sheep, but some know better ... they're real and that's for sure!

I thought I'd spotted one, once even as far south as Yorkshire, but it turned out to be a simple collection of grass. Haggis are very hairy!

Yeah, you got me ... haggis isn't actually a real creature, it's offal. No! Not awful! Offal!

Sheep lungs and heart, mixed with black pepper, barley, oatmeal and spices, stuffed into a stomach and boiled. OMG! How good is this? But, is it Scots?

Actually, it's not! It's English ... and northern English, naturally:

"For hagese'.
Þe hert of schepe, þe nere þou take,
Þo bowel noght þou shalle forsake,
On þe turbilen made, and boyled wele,
Hacke alle togeder with gode persole."

Liber Cure Cocorum dating around 1430 AD in Lancashire

Pow! Owned!

Cook and Food Historian Clarissa Dickson-Wright claims that it "came to Scotland in a longship even before Scotland was a single nation." Dickson-Wright further cites etymologist Walter William Skeat as further suggestion of possible Scandinavian origins: Skeat claimed that the hag - element of the word is derived from the Old Norse haggw or the Old Icelandic hoggva (höggva in modern Icelandic), meaning "to hew" or strike with a sharp weapon, relating to the chopped-up contents of the dish.

Whatever ... it's sheep offals mixed with spices, some bulk and boiled in a stomach to protect the good meat from the water. Ancient sausage?

Blimey! I've gone on ...

Roman Britain was not quite the red vs the blues that childhood comics showed us. Roman Britain was a period of introduction ... Roman soldiers having tramped, literally, the earth came to the land that is now northern England and ventured further north into the land that is now Scotland.

They brought with them cultivation, foreign foods, whether deliberately or by accident.

This dish is a celebration of early fusion! 100 AD fusion :)

In the blue corner, we have haggis! In the red corner ... cabbage. Down the middle ... a wall! Hadrian's Wall! Aside the wall, greens ... watercress (first brought to these lands by the Romans) and wild garlic (again, first brought to these lands by the Romans ... as anti-fungal treatments between their toes ... dropped off and flourished).

Romanticism? Maybe ... but it's all true! Honest.

First, cook the haggis as per the instruction. I like real haggis, as in offals and stuff in a stomach to boil. Boil away for 45 minutes and set aside.

Soften some swede cubes (neaps) and fry them off in a little lard or dripping to colour up.

Boil some red cabbage with red wine, pickled beetroot and red onion. Boil it good! It wants to be soft and unctuous.

Put it together ...


Build a wall, and dress the wall with greens ... watercress and wild garlic. Thanks, Romans!


One side, haggis, t'other red cabbage.

... and wash down with something fusion: Caesar Augustus Lager/IPA Hybrid, brewed by Williams Brothers Brewing Company of Alloa, Scotland.

... and yes, I built a working trebuchet out of fries, alongside, ready to fire Brussels sprouts at the dirty Picts!

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