A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Algerian Haggis...

Does anyone remember Colonel Gaddafi, in the Eighties, advance the preposterous claim that Shakespeare was an really Arab poet who went by the original name of “Sheik El Zubeir”?

Was he being serious at the time?

After all there are many instances in which expressions have travelled great distances to end up being assimilated into a new language to such an extent that careful investigation is required to establish their true origin.
For example, everyone knows that the Chess term "Checkmate" comes from the Arab/Persian "Sheikh matt..." which literally means "The leader/Elder has died..."

With a little bit of twist, one can prove anything these days, when it comes to the true origins of peoples, words or things.

And this is where Algerian Haggis comes in!

Do not snigger because there is a region in Northern Algeria where the main musical instrument is the bagpipes. This is a true fact!

Many British people, especially the English turn their noses up at haggis, whereas moi, Je l'adore!
Now, does that not prove that I was weaned on the most flavoursome food item one can conjure up out of sheep’s innards?

Every year, throughout the Muslim world, the morning of the Eid El Adha festival, thousands of sheep are slaughtered in honour of Abraham.
In Algeria, one of the most prized dishes is “Osbana". Osbana sounds less revolting than Haggis. Haggis echoes the same reverberation as a wet sneeze and invokes associated taste and discomfort.

Osbana and haggis use the same parts of the sheep and those are, in no preferential order, lung, liver, heart and stomach. Where Osbana shines and Haggis fades away is in the taste. Cumin, coriander and chilli are the main spices that give Osbana its superior exotic flavour. Fried onion and garlic are mixed with the finely chopped lung, liver, heart and spices. This mixture, once cooled down, is bound together with breadcrumbs and egg and then stuffed into a purse made with the thoroughly cleaned stomach.

A final expert stitch will ensure that the contents remain inside during cooking. This round ball is ceremoniously placed into a deep pot then slowly poached in a delicious sauce made using the same spices with the subtle addition of a little tomato. Two hours of gentle and loving simmering turn the seemingly unappetising guck into a delicacy fit for kings.

The story is that my great-great-grandfather once met a ginger-haired travelling troubadour with a funny habit of rolling his r’s. He wore a thick skirt adorned with a hairy pouch that protected his crotch and a funny hat with a pompom on top. He happened to be cruising the Mediterranean in search of inspiration.
True to his legendary Algerian generosity and hospitality, my ancestor invited the bard for lunch and, as it happened to be a festival, Osbana was on the “Menu du Jour”.

The foreign fellow, who went by the name of Rabbi Barnes, was so delighted with the meal that he pestered begged his host for the recipe. It was duly translated almost word for word, except that for copyright purposes, the spices were cunningly missed out.

The bard tried his best to coax my great-great-grandfather to impart with the secret spice mix but he mischievously replied: “Have a guess!”

Once back home in Bonny Scotland, this Rabbi Barnes turned out to be none other than Robbie Burns, the great Scottish poet.
He invited the local gentry to taste his find and when questioned as to the origin, the name of this new dish and its ingredients he simply replied: “Have a guess!” which, when spoken fast, in his Scottish mother tongue sounded like “haggis”!
Try it yourselves and you’ll see it rings true! "hav' guess"..."ha' guess"..."haggis"...

And that’s why I can positively say, without reserve that, Haggis may well have originated in Algeria.

After all, if Gaddafi can pinch Shakespeare from the English, what harm could I cause by borrowing a little Haggis from the Scots?

My intention is not to denigrate haggis, which I truly love. I am merely trying to show that, using true sounding arguments, any TRIPE can be turned into virtual reality!

I rest my case!


Blogger Mary said...

I can believe that. I watch a lot of foreign films and even though they are speaking English I have to turn on the subtitles. It's the thickest accent.

As for the lung, liver, heart and stomach I will have to pass.

28/4/06 4:21 PM  
Blogger wendy said...

Haggis schmaggis...bleugh...

Mary - don't those Northerners just KILL you with that accent...ye gods..we need translators...


wv bof gold week

28/4/06 4:58 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Och, Aye! I dinnae ken wha' ye mean, lassie!
Mary I understand every word you say! Dinnae worry, gurl!

Dig, dig, dig, eh Wendy!
No need to talk, just kiss them Northerners, my Spring chick!

28/4/06 6:02 PM  
Blogger wendy said...


bloody Geordies..think they'll overtake the world, they do..

cheep cheep

wv: shite rubbish

28/4/06 6:28 PM  
Blogger lettuce said...

ha ha ha, enjoyed this.

We LOVE haggis in our house (though I could do without the thought of wet sneezes, thankyou very much). Especially nice spicey ones - and a lot of scottish haggis is, actually, good and spicey.

Rabbi Barnes - ha ha. Could be....

Have you tried the bitter choc/cardamom truffle cake yet? Its woooonderful. I shared the last piece with a friend at lunchtime. I love my mouth.

28/4/06 6:40 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I do love your stories, Cream! :)

I went to a ball with a friend once and I tried Haggis. I had heard for years that it was the most horrendous dish imaginable. So I thought I'd finally try it for myself. I took a tiny morsel and was surprised it was quite good.

28/4/06 7:36 PM  
Blogger DCveR said...

In northern Portugal tripe ("tripas") is the most typical food they can serve you, so it's no wonder I like haggis too. Probably your great great great grandfather was one of the children of Dom Sebastião. a Portuguese king who disappeared in north Africa in the war but who some say ended up in Algeria, so I would go as far as to say, considering the tripe from Porto, that Osbona is in fact Portuguese.
And soon a Spaniard will come along and claim "tripas" is Spanish!!! ;)

28/4/06 8:02 PM  
Blogger ramblingwoman said...

Inspired writing Cream! Did you just think that up? Incroyable! I've never had haggis, the thought of andouilles (is that the same?) turns my stomach (haha). But with chili, garlic, and coriander - might be worth a try!

Never had tripe, never will though. My friend's mum used to LOVE brains on toast (don't think you can buy those any more!?)

28/4/06 8:32 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Lettuce, I confess I haven't tried your truffle cake yet. I love haggis and I was joking because Scottish haggis is spicy indeed.

Christine, that's the way! One has to try for oneself! It is not a bad dish at all!

DC, you never know you might be right! I once ordered Callos con Lentejas in Spain no knowing what the dish was (Adventurous!) and I was served Tripe and it was delicious!

Thanks, Rambler!
I enjoyed writing it and I'm glad you found it funny! Haggis is really tasty if you don't think about it!
I've had scrambled brains but I think that in Britain nowadays they are a forbidden product because of CJD...

29/4/06 2:09 AM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Ohhhh wot a load o' tripe :-D Forgive me Cream, I always wanted to say that, hahaha.

Folks here eat it too.

In fact, folks eat the strangest things all over the world...snake, alligator...

I can't wait to hear what Viking has to say. I wonder if he remembers the post about people eating piranha hahaha

29/4/06 5:40 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Love it Gigi! What a load of tripe!

1/5/06 11:04 AM  

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