Haggis Holiday 

Gastro-tourists can hunt elusive quarry this weekend in Bellevue, as the hamlet is appropriating a Scottish tradition: the haggis hunt.

Haggis the food -- a traditional "pudding," or sausage -- is a real concoction of ground-up sheep guts, mixed with spices and oats, and stuffed into other sheep guts. Haggis the legendary beast -- which is what hunters are searching for in Bellevue -- is a fanciful creature that runs through mountains and bogs. It has four legs of two different lengths for easy mountain frolicking.

Haggis is usually "hunted" in the dark of winter to coincide with Jan. 25 birthday celebration of Scottish poet Robert Burns, who famously penned "Address to a Haggis" ("great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!"). But in the dells of Bellevue, the magical hunting season is underway now.

Haggis-seekers can pony up five bucks for a hunting license and visit 33 local shops with clues about where the five haggi are. Then, on Sat., Nov. 8, there's a festival with music and traditional Scottish food, including haggis, bridies (meat pies), neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes), and mushy peas.

"There'll be a sampling of haggis if anyone so dares," says Michele Smith, co-sponsor of the event, which is being run by Enjoy Bellevue. The bridies, neeps and tatties, and mushy peas will be made locally, but the haggis comes from Ohio. "We don't think we should try that ourselves," Smith says.

This haggis will be made with beef innards, rather than the traditional sheep parts. "With toasted oatmeal and spices, it's palatable," speculates Smith, who has never tasted the delicacy herself but plans to do so on Saturday.

She doesn't anticipate most folks will want to try the main attraction: "Probably not, but then we don't have to tell people what it's actually made from."

Festival-goers can work off the mystery meat by cutting a rug to Callan, a Celtic "post-folk ruckus," and by watching various Scottish feats of strength. Burns' ode will be read aloud, to the accompaniment of bagpipes, and thus the lowly haggis will be duly honored.


1 p.m. Sat., Nov. 8. Diocesan House of Prayer, 336 S. Home Ave., Avalon. For more information or to download a hunting-license application, visit www.enjoybellevue.org/ebmas/haggis.htm or call 412-761-5773.



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