No other foodstuff divides opinion like the humble haggis.
Ever since Robert Burns eulogised the great chieftain o’ the pudding race arguments have raged over whether it ranks as a delicacy or some kind of shameful tartan bush tucker trial.
To be fair even for those of us who relish a good haggis, it is certainly more than the sum of its parts – it could hardly be anything else. Even the most ingenious chef might be hard pressed to come up with something if they were presented with the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep and a stomach to cook it in. Though there is always the onion, oatmeal and spices to make a palatable dish.
It doesn’t really help that every butcher has a closely-guarded secret recipe – given the raw ingredients, what is it they don’t want us to know goes in to their particular haggis?
Leading the pro-haggis camp Perthshire businessman and butcher Simon Howie is almost evangelical in his zeal in promoting Scotland’s national dish (and very successfully so – the company’s traditional haggis is now the world’s best-seller).
Over the coming weeks the company is visiting supermarkets the length and breadth of Scotland in an effort to win over the non-believers.
Mr Howie from Dunning has an answer to all the usual reasons for passing up a chance to sample the delights of a haggis – non-meat eaters can have a vegetarian haggis and he has even developed a gluten-free variety.
Only Robert Burns can have done more to keep the once humble dish firmly in the public domain than Mr Howie and his tireless Perthshire workforce.
The battle may not yet be won, but they should be applauded – and toasted at Burns suppers – for their sterling efforts to popularise the haggis and unite a divided nation.