Last year you may remember, our Scottish friends Jan and Scotch Andrew treated us to a traditional Burns Night Supper. It was such a resounding success, we’ve been calling for a repeat since then. Who would have thought that an event centered around offal and oats stuffed in a sheep’s stomach would be such a hit on these shores? But haggis is surprisingly good. Not to mention that a traditional Scottish celebration has other attractions, which shall be addressed in this post.
We arrived at the house flying the Cross of St. Andrew just as one of the haggises (haggisi?) burst its seams in the pot it was boiling in. In some quarters I believe it’s said that a party hasn’t really started until a haggis has exploded, so we took it as a good sign. The haggis was quickly wrapped in cheesecloth and put back on the boil. May I also mention that Jan had even managed to source a vegetarian haggis, so never let it be said that our friends aren’t progressive and attuned to local tastes.
Soon Scots were turning up in their national dress.
This sartorial splendor led to near tears among the English guests who realized they have no real English National Costume.
That idea was quickly rejected in favor of researching family trees, finding distant Scottish relatives, and buying kilts in those clans’ tartans.
Still, you don’t have to be tartan-clad to appreciate the finer points of Scottish culture. For instance, Andy was thrilled to find that the Scottish can quite happily serve a whole meal without a single green vegetable.
As befitting a holiday that commemorates Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns’ Address to a Haggis was dramatically recited by Scotch Andrew — as a bagpipe MP3 played on the iPad. Homemade shortbread — also known as Scottish Crack — was served and devoured. More Scotch was drunk and a good time was had by all.
And we all learned a new bit of Robert Burns poetry. No, not that Haggis poem, which is too long. But a short sweet blessing before dinner, The Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
and some wad eat that want it,
but we hae meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit.
Be warned, next year we are upping our game and making our own haggis! Note to self: see if Sonoma Market can source sheep’s stomach.
Haggis is something I’ve always wanted to try but haven’t been in the right place at the right time.
It’s surprisingly good. Like a large oaty sausage.
The Selkirk Grace hung in our dining room as I grew up.
Did you know that Jerard Butler will be playing Rabbie Burns in a bio-movie?
Ach Lassie. I widnee mind that sweet treacle.
‘Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tæ yer gory bed,
Or tæ victorie.
Haggis is tasty though not something you’d want to eat more than once or twice a year. I have a copy of Ena Baxter’s Scottish Cookbook. Haggis, bashed neeps, shortbread and roast pheasant are amongst the recipes. I’ve only made the shortbread.
Sounds like fun.
This post was my photo of the day.
And are you going to clean the lights by yourself when you make your haggis?
Ah, this brings back fond memories of my Scots grandmother, who taught me (at an early age) to sing “My Bonnie” and to ask for whisky in my tea and pepper in my buttermilk!
And thank you SO Much for the photos of the fine gentlemen in kilts. A neighborhood church holds a clanjamfry every year and I’ve begged the Norwegian to let me put him in a kilt, to no avail. It’s the manliest of garments!
I’m going to see if Sonoma Market can give them to me all cleaned and ready to stuff.
We need to arrange to be in SF for this next time
Great picture of Andy!
that’s too bad Andy didn’t have his own national costume to wear – maybe you can research and design one for next time – once you locate a good sheep stomach source