Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet, explains further, "Traditionally, a Haggis is made from the lung, liver, and heart of the sheep. These are mixed with oatmeal and a few spices and stuffed into the sheep's stomach. After being boiled, the Haggis is brought to the table with a great deal of ceremony. A piper ushers in the Haggis and all raise a glass of Scotch whiskey and "brrreath a prrayerr for the soul of Rrrobbie Burrrns!" It is then served with "neeps and nips," mashed turnips and nips of whiskey. I think you have to drink a lot of Scotch before you can truly enjoy this dish, but a party of Scots without a Haggis is simply not heard of."
For the past year, I've tagged along with the "Queens Restaurant Club" a casual group that uncovers interesting spots for dinner. We do our own thing, but it's interesting to note that organized eating tours are run on the #7 subway line, sometimes called "The Orient Express" for the ethnic neighborhoods it passes through as it leaves Manhattan and heads toward Flushing, Queens. Jackson Heights, where most of the restaurants we visit are, is 10 subway stops out on the #7 for me, about 25 minutes from home.
The #7 heads out of Manhattan.
You could spend a whole day in the heart of Jackson Heights doing a street-food cart crawl. There are hundreds of restaurants and bakeries, from walk up windows to the dingy, the overly lit, to the newly renovated...but you know the food is authentic when you're the only blonde in the place.
We've had Thai, Bangladeshi, Turkish, Argentinian, Indian, Peruvian...and last night we went to the Himalayan Yak in Jackson Heights, a Nepali/Tibetan restaurant. http://www.himalayanyakrestaurant.com/
After scanning the fascinating menu and seeing Goat Intestine and Beef Stomach served various ways, Dried Spiced Up Goat, Sausages "filled with beef blood or goat blood" we decided we were going to be vege-and pescatarians for the night!
"Fermented, Dehydrated and then Oil-Drenched Dry Vegetables" sounded a bit overwrought...so we ordered some traditional sauteed cauliflower and potatoes with spinach, dumplings, 'butter naan' bread and spicy dipping sauces, tingmo (a Tibetan steamed bread--more like raw dough, not too bad, but not great) and a poor tilapia that was cooked way past it's yumminess---four of us had about one forkful of fish. I've heard fish cheeks are good, but when I poked my fork in there, it was brown mush. Himalayan Gack! The "Just Plain Beaten Rice" was just that...beaten flat, and dry like uncooked oatmeal. The texture was interesting and it was good mixed with the sauce and veggies.
I'll bet there are many things on the Himalayan Yak menu that are downright delicious. I'm very open to trying new foods, but for me, offal is awful. I felt we were hopscotching around the menu, looking for the familiar. Yakkity yak, I won't be going back.
Next up, Sapori d'Ischia, a quirky Italian restaurant (Italian food market by day!) in an industrial section of Woodside, Queens. I've been there a few times--it's a hidden gem, literally.
Worth checking out: The Travel Channel is running a series called "Meet The Natives USA" http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Meet_the_Natives
It's very interesting to hear the tribesmen, who have never been to America, call our food "lifeless" and to wonder why pets are sold in stores, and have tailored clothing! Their host in Peoria, Illinois was roasting a turkey in a plastic bag for Thanksgiving and the Chief said, "I'm afraid that plastic will melt and poison our bodies." A fair observation! Gee, I wonder if he's tried a Fluffernutter sandwich or some Hot Pockets and Pop Tarts?
Tribesmen, wide eyed, shopping in a pet superstore