It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And I don’t say that just because once again my wife barely survived the annual “Day After Thanksgiving, 4:00 a.m., Grab A Gift and Get the Hell Out Before You’re Trampled to Death” shopping extravaganza.
I also don’t say it because instead of turning on the radio and getting Christina Aguilera singing, “Watch Me Take My Clothes Off,” I get Christina Aguilera singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” And I don’t say it because my children have handed me their final Christmas lists, complete with fourteen gazillion dollar price tag.
I say it because I’ve started to get packages filled with disgusting food shipped from people who are supposed to care about me. My first such package arrived yesterday from my friend Nick, who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Several years ago, I spent a few summers in Scotland playing baseball because no team in North America would have me. Nick is the coach of the Edinburgh Diamond Devils, the team I played for, and we became pretty good friends while I was there.
Anyway, Nick sent me a Christmas box this week. Inside were several items, including a large box of Scottish blend tea (which is actually pretty good if you add enough sugar—three cups usually does it), and six bags of a Scottish favorite called “Twiglets.” Twiglets are so named because they look like—are you ready for this—little twigs.
The coolest thing about Twiglets is that, even though they look like little tree branches, they taste exactly like: little tree branches. These things are really nasty. I could have easily gone out in the back yard and brought in some bits and pieces from the oak tree and you wouldn’t be able to distinguish between these from the Twiglets. I’m not kidding. It worked on the kids.
This doesn’t surprise me, coming from Nick. Scottish people eat some really nasty stuff. I guess wearing a kilt in a land whose national flower is the thistle toughens a person up.
For example, the Scottish national dish is “Haggis,” which includes—and I’m taking this right from a recipe card I got while visiting—“One sheep’s pluck (heart, lungs, liver) and stomach.”
And it gets better. One of the instructions on the recipe card reads: “Wash pluck, then boil for two hours with windpipe draining over the side of pot.” Doesn’t that just get your mouth salivating?
The Scottish also love “Tripe and Onions,” which includes actual sheep intestines; “Boiled Sheep’s Tongues,” which includes actual tongues of actual sheep (everytime I think of this recipe I imagine a field full of sheep trying to go, “Baaaa,” but only being to say, “Aaaaa”); and “Cock-A-Leekie Soup,” whose actual contents I will not discuss in a family newspaper.
But fortunately Nick didn’t send any of those. However, Nick did also send a small box of chocolaty sweets called “Reindeer Droppings.” I get the idea that this name is supposed to be a joke, but I’m not taking any chances. Maybe I’ll try them on the kids first.
Mike Jensen is a freelance writer living in Colorado. He received his M.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he wrote his first book, Alaska’s Wilderness Highway. He has since published Skier’s Guide to Utah along with humor, travel, and political articles for various magazines and newspapers. He is married with five sons, and spends his free time at a remote cabin in the Colorado Rockies.
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