A New Lung-Free Recipe Will Finally Make Haggis Legal for Canadians

iStock
iStock

When it comes to food and drink, Scotland is famous for its whiskey and infamous for its haggis. While plenty of people enjoy the dish in Scotland (particularly on Burns Night and during New Year's celebrations), authentic versions of haggis have been illegal to sell in both the U.S. and Canada for years. But just in time for cold winter nights, BBC News reports that a unique variety of the Scottish staple will allow haggis back on Canadian plates for the first time in almost 50 years.

Haggis is made of sheep’s “pluck"—the heart, liver, and lungs—minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and suet, or hard beef or mutton fat. The savory pudding has been verboten in the U.S. since 1971, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that the lungs of livestock—a key component of the dish—couldn’t be used as a food ingredient. In the 1990s the U.S. also banned UK livestock imports to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, further distancing itself from haggis, according to Scotland Now. (The U.S. announced in 2016 that it had reached an agreement with the UK to lift the red-meat ban.)

Canada instated a similar lung-products ban in 1971, though it lifted its own embargo on red-meat imports from the UK in 2015. However, the bans on lungs in food products still stand in both countries, forcing haggis producers in Scotland to get creative with their recipes if they want to sell them in North America.

Macsween of Edinburgh, a Scottish meat wholesaler, has created a new, lung-free version of haggis to sell in Canada, according to The National Post. It contains sheep’s heart instead of lung, and is prepared in company facilities that have been pre-approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “It’s as close as we can get to the original recipe using different meats, because the oats and spice mix are the same,” David Rae, Macsween’s commercial director, told the UK newspaper i.

Some food providers have criticized the move, claiming that sheep’s lungs give haggis its fluffy texture and nutty flavor. Others say that the pudding contains lots of ingredients, and that a few missing ones won’t impact its overall taste, the CBC reports.

So far, it’s unclear whether lung-free haggis will also be making its way stateside. But in Canada, the move is expected to rake in big bucks. Scotland’s food and drink exports to Canada are now worth more than $154 million, according to the Toronto Star.

There's also reason to hope that one day, Americans will be able to eat real, authentic Scottish haggis again, lungs and all. The USDA has been hinting about lifting the ban since 2015, though the regulatory change has yet to materialize.

[h/t BBC News]

What's the Difference Between Apple Juice and Apple Cider?

iStock/Alter_photo
iStock/Alter_photo

In a time before pumpkin spice went overboard with its marketing, people associated fall with fresh apples. Crisp and fresh, they practically beg to be crushed and pulped into liquid. But what’s the difference between apple juice and apple cider?

According to the state of Massachusetts, home to a variety of apple-picking destinations, both apple juice and apple cider are fruit beverages. But apple cider is raw, unfiltered juice—the pulp and sediment are intact. To make cider, the apples are ground into an applesauce-like consistency, then wrapped in cloth. A machine squeezes the layers and strains out the juice into cold tanks. That’s the cider that ends up on store shelves.

Apple juice, on the other hand, takes things a step further—removing solids and pasteurizing the liquid to lengthen its shelf life. It’s typically sweeter, possibly with added sugar, and may lack the stronger flavor of its relatively unprocessed counterpart. It’s also often lighter in color, since the remaining sediment of cider can give it a cloudy appearance.

But that’s just the Massachusetts standard. Each state allows for a slight variation in what companies are allowed to call apple cider versus apple juice. The cider may be pasteurized, or the cider and juice may actually be more or less identical. One company, Martinelli’s, states in its company FAQ that their two drinks are the same in every way except the label: "Both are 100 percent pure juice from U.S. grown fresh apples. We continue to offer the cider label since some consumers simply prefer the traditional name for apple juice."

The US Apple Association, a nonprofit trade organization that represents growers nationwide, indicates that apple juice can be made from concentrate, which is why you might see water as the first ingredient on the label. Generally, cider is the hard stuff: Crushed apples with minimal processing. Because it can ferment, it's usually found refrigerated. Apple juice can often be found elsewhere in stores, where it can remain stable.

Which you should buy comes down to personal preference. Typically, though, recipes calling for apple cider should use apple cider. Processed juice may be too sweet an ingredient. And you can always try making a pumpkin spice hot apple cider, although we may stop talking to you if you do.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Europe's First Underwater Restaurant Is Now Taking Reservations

MIR, Snøhetta
MIR, Snøhetta

The choppy waters off Norway's coast may not seem like the most relaxing dining atmosphere, but thanks to the work of the architecture firm Snøhetta, the North Sea is now home to the region's hottest new restaurant. Under, Europe first underwater restaurant (and the world's largest), opens next year, as Forbes reports—and reservations are already filling up fast.

From the shore, Under looks like some sort of toppled ruin jutting out of the water. Guests enter at sea-level, then descend to the champagne bar and finally to the 100-person dining room, which is submerged 18 feet beneath the ocean's surface. From their seats, diners can gaze through the restaurant's 36-foot-by-13-foot panoramic window. Lighting installed both inside the room and along the seabed outside illuminates nearby marine life, providing a stunning underwater show any time of day or night.

A rendering of the top of Under jutting out of the ocean
MIR, Snøhetta

In addition to designing Under to be a breathtaking experience, Snøhetta built the restaurant to durable. The building's 3-foot thick walls protect guests and staff from water pressure and violent tides. The architects were so sure of the restaurant's safety that they intentionally built it in notoriously rough waters near the town of Båly off Norway's southern coast. According to Snøhetta's senior architect Rune Grasdal, a storm is the best time to dine if guests want a truly dramatic view.

A rendering of the exterior of the underwater restaurant
MIR, Snøhetta

The over-the-top atmosphere will be accompanied by a world-class meal. The seasonal menu comes from Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard and dishes are served over the course of three-and-a-half to four hours.

Under doesn't open to the public until April 2019, but the restaurant is already taking reservations. Adventurous diners can attempt to book a table here, or, for parties larger than eight, email the restaurant.

[h/t Forbes]

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