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20 March 2019

Tonight's Episode: The Most Interesting Appetizer in Scotland


My mother was from Scotland, born and raised. This gave me an insider's knowledge of the two main culinary achievements from the land of William Wallace and the Loch Ness Monster: batter and fry it or shove it in a sheep gut and boil it. The former being such delicacies as deep fried Mars bars, deep fried pizza, and deep fried kababs (all real things). The later is, of course, the dreaded haggis.

If you are somehow unaware of haggis, it is a savory pudding (fairly close to a sausage) that starts with sheep heart, lung, and liver. These are then minced with oatmeal, suet, and spices, loaded into a sheep stomach, boiled, sliced, then fried. If you are now wondering why this is even a thing, I refer you to Charlie from So I Married an Axe Murderer: "Most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare."

I'm actually a defender of haggis, the national dish of Scotland, and it is having something of a moment. It is rare to find a high end restaurant in Scotland that doesn't have an artisan farm-to-table haggis on the menu. This brings us to the single most interesting appetizer in all of Scotland, the Haggis Italiano from La Vita Pizzeria, Glasgow.

The base is a perfectly toasted crostini of homemade Italian bread. The haggis is then perfectly grilled, topped with an over easy fried egg, peppery arugula, and an aged balsamic drizzle. The richness of the egg gives a much needed moisture to the haggis, the crostini adds great texture, the arugula's peppery bite and freshness cuts through the heaviness, and the sweet balsamic mutes the minerality of the pudding.

I'm not sure what madman decided a marriage between Italian flavors and.....haggis....would work, but boy does it ever work. This isn't the only dish at La Vita that plays with Scottish-Italian fusion. There is a haggis carbonara, a black pudding linguine, even a black pudding pizza! But it is this simple, perfect little appetizer that not only sets the mood for the menu but shows you that haggis isn't only for a lost dare.


La Vita Pizzaria, George Square, Glasgow

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