It is January 25th, wha hae … and here’s a health to all as we honour the birthday of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Originating from our student days in Glasgow, my husband and I have carried the traditions of Burns Night with us in our gradual migration to the South-West of England. In 1998, we celebrated our first Burns Supper south of the border with a party of vaguely bemused friends, a vast quantity of haggis and a large bottle of whisky. Ten years and three children later, we will still be celebrating tonight with haggis, neeps and tatties along with the essential single malt whisky (albeit in slightly reduced quantities to those of 1998!).
It’s not too late for anyone to join us – here’s a simple recipe for a successful Burns Night Supper wherever you may be …
1. Track down a haggis (don’t believe those stories of wee hairy beasties roaming the Scottish countryside, one pair of legs shorter than the other since they spend their time spiraling steep slopes – try your local deli instead).
2. Remove any plastic covering. Wrap the haggis in kitchen foil (in case it bursts), place in a roasting dish and fill with water so that it reaches about halfway up the side of the haggis. Cook at 180 degrees C for about an hour or so until the haggis is heated through.
3. Peel and boil (in separate pans) your turnip (swede for those south of the border 😉 ) and potatoes … neeps and tatties. Mash.
4. Find someone to play the bagpipes for you while the haggis is cooking (warning: you’ll need to wear industrial-strength ear plugs if your rooms are small – I speak from experience, having survived a piper’s attempts to deafen all in the Uisge Beatha one Burns Night). Alternatively, put on some traditional music or hum a Scottish jig (Linn Records do a Robert Burns Series of CDs that are excellent).
5. Serve the neeps and tatties on a plate. Pour a dram of whisky. Say the Selkirk Grace …
“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some would eat that want it,
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.”
6. … then play a rousing tune as you ceremonially carry the haggis to the table. This is called ‘piping in the haggis’.
7. You should now address the haggis. At the appropriate place in this rendition, raise a knife dramatically, stab the haggis savagely and split it along its length …
“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.”
8. Raise your dram in a toast to ‘The Haggis’.
9. Eat and drink muchly.
11. End your evening with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne:
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”
Happy Burns Night – Slainte 🙂