Haggis. Its not something I ever thought I’d actively seek out to eat, even after several years of living with a man whose name could only have been more Scottish if it was Jock McSporran, and who forced Haggis, Tatties and Neeps on me every Burns Night. But, incredibly, a street food stall that lands on Broadway Market in East London every Saturday has me a confirmed Haggis-head (which I assume is the proper name?).
Deeney’s are to be found on the main strip of Broadway Market on Saturdays, about halfway along (as well as Chatsworth Road on Sundays, St Katharine’s Docks on Fridays, or all week in Leyton at their own cafe). They do a variety of different toasties, but in truth I’ve only ever had the same one each time – The Hamish Macbeth. Consisting of 2 thick slices of granary bread, filled pretty generously with Macsween Haggis, Scottish Cheddar, smoked bacon, caramelised onions, mustard and rocket. These are combined and then toasted on a flat grill with large iron weights pressing them together, the cheese melting through the sandwich to bond and combine the ingredients and flavours in a wonderful way.
The sandwich itself is probably a bit of a crowd-splitter – haggis has a very distinctive taste which, in spite of the sharp cheddar flavour and ample mustard, dominates proceedings here. For those who’ve never had haggis, it’s a little tricky to describe. It varies depending on where you are getting it from, from spicy to peppery to oaty, and the meat aspect is obviously carrying an offally flavour and texture to it – that to me is something I would never have tried had it not been pretty much forced on me, but in these toasties it actually is a really pleasant part of a great combination. The other ingredients are bold enough to fight their corners, meaning that each mouthful is a real explosion of flavours, as well as the various contrasting textures from the crispy toast edges and bacon through to the melted cheese (with the nice crispy burnt bits at the edges), and soft, crumbly hot haggis throughout. It’s definite comfort-food material, excellent in helping with hangovers and easily enough to get you through an afternoon, at a very reasonable price by London street food standards.
I know a lot of people are very wary of haggis because of its dubious reputation surrounding what it is actually made of, but anyone interested in trying a flavour they’ve almost certainly not had before, I would really strongly recommend giving this a whirl. It really is a bit special, and always near the top of my hit list when I go to Broadway Market.