Off to the Land of Haggis

by Jennifer Iannolo

Well, there’s no turning back now. The tickets have been purchased and the relatives warned. Brother Gargantua will not be traveling with us to Scotland, so the Queen has released the emergency stockpile of food. We received a lovely letter from her.

I can’t believe it has taken me 32 years to visit the land of my mother’s birth, but I am overjoyed that the time has come. Mary Margaret is eagerly anticipating fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, pastries and real Cadbury chocolate. Her childhood nickname was “Porky,” so that should tell you all you need to know. I still don’t understand how she ended up being a size 4. But I’m not bitter.

In preparation for our trip (and the research for my book) we have been unsuccessfully trying to recreate our family’s version of the Scottish “clootie” dumpling. For those overcome with curiosity, a Scottish clootie is a cloth, in this instance a pillowcase that was used to encase the dumpling while cooking. Odd, I know, but they are a damned ingenious bunch.

I tried comparing our recipe with others on the internet, but it seems that each person in Scotland has his or her own version. I have never seen such a variance in ingredients, particularly for such a complicated creation. Some use stout, others treacle syrup, others molasses, and some even use coffee (?). It seems that our problem may lie in the suet, which needs to be of the purest pearly white and taken from the area just around the pig’s kidneys. However, despite shaking down several butchers and crafting some shady deals in the alleyway behind the local supermarket, we have been unable to find just the right stuff. I’m hoping someone from the Forbes clan can help us solve this dilemma. Perhaps we should be using Egyptian cotton.

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