Haggis pizza? Of course, I'll try anything
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- It was late on my first night in Scotland when I grossed out Nick Faldo.
Before I explain, a confession: I like weird food. I come by it naturally. My mama jokes that my dad could be counted on to order the strangest menu item. Kangaroo special? Done. If there's an endangered species omelet, he'd suss it out. True story: Once, on a family vacation, I was young and starving and calling out for food. I meant, you know, McDonald's. Instead, as if directed by the siren call of grease and carbs, my dad pulled up to a place that looked (A) out of business or (B) like a meth lab. He turned off the car, obviously pleased with himself. The little dive he picked? It served only fried rabbit sandwiches. That's my childhood.
So, on my last trip to St. Andrews, half in the bag at the end of a night, I wandered down to a little takeaway place and saw it, the North Star of ridiculous, drunken food decisions: haggis pizza. Haggis, in case you don't know, is a vaguely sausagelike mixture of various ingredients. Only three really matter: sheep's heart, liver and lungs. This stuff makes foie gras look like a grilled chicken breast. For the past few months, I've been joking about ordering the haggis pizza.
I waste no time.
Six hours after hitting St. Andrews, and a few minutes after leaving the Dunvegan pub, I head across town, following the crowds of students. The Kinness Fry Bar -- known to students and locals as KFB -- is the spot to be. Think about where you went to college. Is there a burger shop or pizza joint you crave? This is that place for University of St. Andrews students. It's packed. There are two Americans from Virginia. There are some posh English students -- they call the girls "yahs" because of how ridiculously snooty they sound saying the word "yes" -- waiting for their takeaway. There's a lot of floppy blond hair -- atop both sexes -- at the counter.
Wright Thompson/ESPN.comThere it is, haggis pizza.
Break it down.
I watch the guy cut slices from a loaf and layer them all over my pizza. Scott, who is a veteran of many Open Championships, smartly orders plain cheese. Not I. Haggis and, for dessert, the fried Mars bar.
Yes, a fried Mars bar. (Don't ask. I don't know.)
Finally, it appears. The haggis-to-pizza ratio is not what I'd hoped. I mean, the thing is loaded down with the stuff. Groaning under the weight of compacted sheep guts. Big, thick rounds of it. I pick up a piece and it collapses. The haggis is round and black and grainy.
"High-end granite," Scott says.
Finally, I shovel a piece in my mouth. It doesn't have the metallic aftertaste of liver. I can't tell the heart from the lungs. It takes like sausage. I eat most of the piece, and we sit at the one outside table, passing the fried Mars bar back and forth -- the caloric puff, puff, give.
This is right about the time that -- because, hell, it's the week of the Open Championship -- Faldo walks past. He stops to chat.
"Would you like some haggis pizza?" I ask.
"Is it really?"
He peers into the box.
"Oh, no! You're kidding me!"
I leave the rest of the monstrosity behind, headed for bed. The streets already seem familiar, and it's still the first night. Perfect: Nick Faldo and haggis pizza.
Welcome to the Open.