Those who supply food to the restaurant industry are in the midst of a surge in demand for sheep-organ meats -- stomachs, hearts and livers. It happens each year in late January, when Scotsmen and those who appreciate them prepare for a birthday party to honor poet Robert Burns, often featuring a haggis feast.
Anyone who hears about haggis for the first time either politely declines to seek it out or makes some gesticulation indicating a desire to vomit. What is haggis? "We stuff the sheep's stomach with the mixture made out of the sheep's hearts and sheep's liver and oatmeal," explains St. Louis Brewery & Tap Room executive chef Scot Smelser. "It's a weird combo."
After the stomach is stuffed good and well with the mixture, which also includes spices and other goodies, it's sewn up with kitchen twine. The bloated organ is then baked, the twine is removed and the dish is served to fearless diners along with other Scottish treats, such as "neaps and tatties" (mashed turnips and potatoes) and Scotch eggs (hard-boiled eggs wrapped in bacon and fried). Proper lads and lassies won't skimp on the Scotch, either.
Before the kilt meets the chair, though, there's a famous toast to be made. Someone must recite Burns' noted poem "Address to a Haggis" to duly honor this unusual repast. It's a special moment, and it begs a question: Why don't we write and recite an "Address to a Brisket" or "Address to a Really Big Burrito" for other occasions?
Will people turn out in droves to eat haggis on Burns' Night? The surprising answer is yes.
"We're gonna run out," says Smelser. "People love it."
They also love the little buttons that the Tap Room doles out to the brave. They read: "I ate haggis and lived."