If there's one thing Americans think of when they think of Scotland (after kilts, bagpipes, whiskey, and golf, perhaps) it's haggis, more affectionately known as "the heart, lungs and liver of a sheep boiled in its own stomach" (cf Earthworm Jim).
(Haggis, neeps & tatties--aka turnips and mashed potatoes,
accompanied by a half-pint of Caledonian 80/-)
If you put it that way, of course, haggis sounds utterly disgusting, but then again so does a hot dog, or most sausages and savory puddings for that matter, if you get down to the nitty gritty of what actually goes into the things. And nowadays, there's not any stomach involved--the casing is entirely artificial. You can even get soy-based vegetarian haggis, though I can't yet vouch for how near it gets to the real thing.
(You only live once.)
The truth is, haggis is delicious--like an excellent ground meatloaf or the filling of a shepherd's pie, with a nutty, oaty flavor (that would be the oats, I guess). Fans of black pudding (post forthcoming) will especially appreciate the richness of the dish.
The traditional sides are nice, too. The plainness of the tatties and the mild acidity of the neeps (sounds kind of rude, doesn't it?) are a good complement to the richness of the haggis. And the Caledonian 80/- ale was a fine match, smooth and malty, with a bit of toasted malt and a mineral aftertaste.
The pub where we tasted said haggis, neeps, and tatties also deserves a mention. The Last Drop, on the Grassmarket just below (literally, as in downhill) from the Royal Mile, is, like many Grassmarket establishments, named after the gallows that used to stand at one edge of the square.
Unlike many other Grassmarket eateries, however, the Last Drop eschews the typical tourist markup and offers cheap, classic pub fare without a lot of fuss.
UPDATE: Nana from the comments: "I ate some too! Me me me! I liked the bite I had, but it was way too rich for me to eat more. That doesn't seem to bother Justin." No, it certainly does not!