Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties Oh My

Signs of civilization were sprinkled absently throughout the Highlands.

“How’s your president?” asks the fat Scotch in the corner. He is smiling in between gulps of local beer.

We were in Portree on the Isle of Skye, the beauty queen of the northwestern islands of Scotland (voted fourth best island in the world by NatGeo!). I’m tired of carrying my bag so my traveling companion and I find the nearest pub. Up here in the Highlands, almost all hotels double as a pub. This certain pub/hotel had only one customer so early in the afternoon. The pierced bartender tells us there isn’t room here (renovations), so try the other hotel across the way. As we turned away, the ruddy chubster speaks.

“How’s your president?” he had asked, and without thinking, I respond, “Still black.”

A snort and a swig later, “What’s the Klu Klux Klan think of that?” Snort of laugher again, swig of ale.

My compatriot and I look at each other, shrug, and say the obvious: “Probably moved to Canada or at least Alaska.”

As we step from the darkened room into the rare sunlight, we hear a eruptive guffaw from the fat man’s corner. We’d been trolled. He was clearly amused at his cleverness, and probably had a rare moment of thankfulness for Americans.

This past weekend, my Traveler’s itch started up again. So, as a cure, I hopped a bus and jumped on a train, heading somewhere that wasn’t here. That somewhere ended up being the Highlands. After making it to the lovely city of Inverness, there were still too many people. Too much civilization. I wanted to see a real bit o’ Scotland.

So, my traveling companion and I ventured further to the enchanted Isle of Skye, right by Kyle of Lochalsh. It is about a six hour train ride from St. Andrews, not including the bus ride to and from the little towns to the railway.

Why to travel via Train, Reason #1: excellent views

As the train curved its way closer to Kyle of Lochalsh, the passengers who joined us spoke in thicker accents and wore woolier clothing. It became apparent that fashion took a backseat to comfort here. This was a neat reprieve from the tights/boots/short skirts theme I find in St. Andrews. Let’s be honest:  it’s a coastal town, and that blustery wind is no friend to thinly clothed legs. I approved of this style more, merely because I now don’t feel like a prude for wearing normal clothing.

So, wrapped in my jumpers and jeans in Portree and at last ready to see the sights, we realize there’s a problem:  we don’t have a way to go to the sights to see them. This is the winter; no tourism, and no buses. That means, no sightseeing unless you can find a car place that will rent a British manual car to underaged, automatic-driving Americans.

Seems unlikely, but apparently, the age/automatic-driving wasn’t a problem when filing the paperwork. The problem was when we had to actually start driving.

My companion had assured me that he knew how to drive a stickshift. So, when we couldn’t get the car out of the car park, I began to worry. Not only were we learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road on a one-lane mountainous road, we were learning how to drive the car.

Driving on the opposite side of the road. Rather stressful on a one-lane mountain road.

“I thought you said you had done this before!”

“No, I said that I knew how. There is a difference. And I have done this before.”

The car jolted to death again. I raised my eyebrows accusingly.

“Well, I did really well with stickshift in my video game…”

Surprisingly, we figured out how to drive the thing relatively quickly, and on the correct side of the road, too. That is, until we had to reverse.

We were in the middle of nowhere, parked at the edge of a driveway to a small white cottage. Kids were plastered against the windows, watching us attempt to back out of it. I was pretending to know how to read a map while my companion desperately called our new St. Andrews friends in hopes to find someone who knew how to reverse.

When we did (“What? You the clutch up and then sideways?”), we were pretty much golden the rest of the evening.

Until the HAGGIS.

Yes, that is correct. Our quaint little pub/hotel served a number of tasty meals, but one of them was Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties. Haggis= all leftover meat from a sheep (intestines, hearts, liver, etc). Neeps = smashed yellow turnips. Tatties= mashed potatoes.

I craved the pub burger, but I couldn’t do it. I was in the Highlands, bless my soul, and I had to eat their food. So, with my stomach growling and my little American soul crying, I ordered HNT.

It was delicious. Like meatloaf, but softer. And a spiced flavor that followed perfectly with the sweet turnips and salty potatoes.

I swear, I’d highly suggest trying some. And don’t miss out on the whiskey sauce that covers it. Surprisingly delectable for intestines.


Not my personal photo. Forgot my camera, but this is rather similar to my own tower of HNT.

One Comment to “Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties Oh My”

  1. Love the images I saw in my head from this post. Something I’d love to sip tea to!

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