Thursday, January 22

10E2422: January 25th - Burns Night

Coming up soon, January 25th is earmarked in Scotland as Burns Night, an evening to celebrate the writing and life of poet/bon vivant (and other not as complimentary words depending how you read history) Robert Burns. You may know him from such works as Auld Lang Syne or  My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose? Many of his works are impenetrable to non-Scots speakers (or even scotch-speakers as the evening wears on...)  

Burns Supper is the name of the specific celebratory dinner held on Burns Night - with readings and a convoluted order of ceremony, but luckily there is now an app for that...

The Scottish Government has made the complete works of Robert Burns available, free of charge, on the iPhone. They are on v3.0 I believe. The app features a searchable database of Burns' poems and love songs, with a glossary of terms that floats over the poem to help you with the Scots' dialect. There is also a Burns Supper guide to help you plan the dinner tonight... Download the app here.

Haggis from McSween's in Edinburgh; gold standard.

‘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.

The poetry of Burns is all well and good (though Burns only adapted, didn't write the traditional The Selkirk Grace that we love), but any excuse to eat haggis is the real draw here. Contrary to the usual BS, haggis is no more formidable that game sausage, or black pudding, i.e. all good stuff.

OK, run that sheep's stomach bit past me again? There cannot be a dish so famously (and completely unfairly IMHO) reviled as haggis... Actual ingredients are sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and lots of pepper -wrapped in a sheep's stomach as casing, that part is not eaten. Our family trick is to bake it, don’t boil it... Also, a good gravy is a must as it is very oaty/crumbly and needs something to stick with the mashed potatoes.

The other great thing is the day after, you ball-up the leftover haggis and potato and whatever else is left and fry it in a pan. Add a fried egg and it is (whisky) breakfast of champions. The snag is that is near impossible to get real haggis in the States. Lung is not allowed in foodstuffs here... and that is a component of the ‘great chieftain’.

Want a guide on how to wear the kilt? Further reading.

Bostonians looking for an easy way to sample the evening could do worse than The Burren this Monday. Register here. No cover.