Burns Nicht Revels

Joanna Schaffalitzky — 

Ever since we went to Edinburgh during the summer, my beau, Jon has been craving haggis. It was the first time he had ever had it and he was immediately enamoured with the taste and texture.

He was therefore thrilled when I managed to pick up two for €7 in M&S and suggested that we have a Burns Nicht celebration. A quick query to my parents indicated that they would also be interested in such an adventure. So last Monday, on Burns Night itself, I dropped over with a haggis, a bag of rooster potatoes and the smallest turnip I could find. We had all the ingredients for haggis, neeps and tatties.

We set the haggis to boiling for an hour and half and then I had to run out the door to help out at the local Girl Guide company. My dad however, took over the cooking baton and whipped up some very tasty mash and made the executive decision to mash the turnip up with some carrot to make it a little more palettable.

I returned to the house to find the haggis keeping warm in the oven while Jon and my dad discussed which whisky would be best to serve with the meal. In the end we had two on the table, Glenfiddich and Laphroaig. I preferred the taste the Glennfiddich myself as it had a pleasant honey after taste. The Laphroaig I found a little too medicinal in taste, but according to my parents it had been better when it was originally opened and had a very peaty, smokey flavour.

The haggis itself was very tasty. I went for M&S's normal haggis rather than their organic lamb version. The only complaint was from my dad who would've liked some sort of gravy with it as he found the meal a little on the dry side.

Jon read out the traditional Address to a Haggis, the text of which I've put in below for your perusal, he was the best of us to read it as he comes from Nothern Ireland so his accent it close enough to the Scots' to our ears. We then went through the poem making a rough translation for my mum, who was curious to know what a couple of the verses meant.

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening and I still have another haggis in the freezer for scoffing later in the year. Did anyone else, celebrate Burns Nicht? Or does anyone have any suggestions for a sauce or gravy that we could serve with the haggis to make it wetter for my dad?

Address to a Haggis

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 of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hudies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut ye up wi' ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reeking, rich!

Then horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit!' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Tho' bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whistle;
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned
Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware,
That jaups in luggies;
But if ye wish her gratfu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!


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