Whisky, haggis and other delights which aren’t Scottish!

Could our national dish actually be English?
Could our national dish actually be English?

SOME of Scotland’s most famous “exports” – including haggis and whisky – are, according to the history books, actually imports. The Extra trawls the records in search of their origins.

It is a national drink proudly held to the lips of Scots the world over, but the first written record of whisky drinking was actually made in Ireland in 1405.

The Annals of The Kingdom of Ireland charts the death of Richard Magranell, chieftain of Moyntyreolas, who died at Christmas of that year after one dram too many - or “a surfeit of aqua vitae.”

The earliest documented record of distilling in Scotland was made in 1494, when an entry in the Exchequer Rolls listed “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae” (water of life).

Scotland’s golfing links are some of the country’s most prized terrain but there is strong evidence to suggest that the game was actually an import from northern Europe.

The still and ball games of France, Germany and the Low Countries may well have been imported to Scotland in the 1300s to 1400s due to trade links, but there is no doubt the modern game was developed in Scotland, starting in the Middle Ages.

The first written record of the game - played with a kolf, or club - in the Low Countries was made in 1261.

The first documented mention of the game in Scotland appears in 1457 Act of the Scottish Parliament, when King James II of Scotland banned “gowf” and football as they were a distraction from archery practice for military purposes.

Its sonsie face will be roundly celebrated on Burn’s Night, but the origins of the humble haggis is believed to be English.

In recent years, a 1615 reference to the dish of “haggas” was found in a text called The English Hus-Wife.

Author Gervase Markham referred to “this small oatmeal mixed with the blood, and the liver of either sheep, calfe, or swine, maketh that pudding.”

Food historian Catherine Brown said Burns claimed the pudding as Scottish with his 1786 Address to the Haggis because it was a thrifty contrast to the flamboyant French cuisine popular in Edinburgh at the time.

Who’d have thought it eh?