We are entering into the holiday season which means lots of turkey, ham, stuffing and of course…mashed potatoes! But what about the Haggis!? Let’s talk about the most underrated Scottish holiday celebrating Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.
Burn’s Night dinner parties are held throughout Scotland on January 25th but also the rest of the world and even here in Southern California. A night to celebrate with dinner, dancing, bagpipes, and socializing till the wee hours of the morning. But for most, the Haggis is really what comes to mind when thinking of a Burns night event (see below for a great family recipe!). In my opinion the poor wee haggis has had a bad rap for years. People won’t go near it, yet they have never savored it! It is traditionally served with mashed neeps and tatties (aka turnip (yellow) and potato). A whisky sauce gives an added touch but so does a wee dram on the side!
I couldn’t write this blog without adding the Address to the Haggis. When I read it I can hear my Dad’s voice ringing in my ears; he was known for doing many addresses at Burn's events over the years and although I do not have anywhere near the understanding of the Scots language or the use of the slang as he did, I can give it a fair run through with a few mispronunciations.
ADDRESS TO THE HAGGIS – by Robert Burns (1787)
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's me arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies 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 you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
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,
Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody 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 mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind yer care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!
WHAT TO EXPECT AT A BURN’S EVENT
Burns events will include a toast to the Lads and a toast to the Lassies and usually a bit of poetry reading along with Highland Dancing (some may even have a Scottish band playing music for dancing). It is considered a dressy event and Kilts with formal jackets would not be out of line. For the ladies, a lovely dress with a tartan sash is perfect.
Our rental season in January is hectic so if you plan to attend an event, we suggest reserving a rental right away! If you would like to purchase your own kilt, then plan to have that ordered by no later than the first part of November. For the ladies, we have a lot of scarves in the shop and can easily fold a rosette into one for wearing with a lovely dress. There is also a video on how to make a rosette on our website.
WHAT WILL YOU BE EATING?
Haggis of course! But usually it’s a starter with a main entrée and dessert to follow. Traditional dessert would a Trifle but that can be hard to do with a huge group of people. You could keep it simple by serving Shortbread at the end of the evening.
Over the years we have had many shop events where my Mum has served up a version of Haggis that isn’t too involved. Some have asked for the recipe so I’ve included it here –
HAGGIS by SCOTTISH TREASURES (aka as Mum's Version)
1 ¼ lb. lean ground beef
1 ¼ lb. ground lamb
1 ¼ c barley
¾ c steel ground oats
¾ c oat groats (sometimes hard to find in store, https://www.bobsredmill.com/organic-whole-oat-groats.html)
1 lb. calves or beef liver (ask the butcher for the liver or order ahead of time; optional substitution with ground beef but it will change the flavor)
1 ½ t. allspice; 2 t. salt; 4 t. pepper; ½ t. sage; ½ t. thyme
Pour boiled water or bouillon over grans and steep overnight. Drain.
Mix together all ingredients; Put in large flat baking dish at 350 deg. Cook 1 ½ hours or so, stirring at times. If it gets too dry, add some bouillon. You can freeze the leftovers.
Serve with mashed potato and mashed neeps (yellow turnip or rutabaga) and a lovely whisky sauce or a wee dram on the side (or maybe both). Other suggestions: Haggis Nachos; Haggis burritos; Haggis and baked potato. By the way, in case you can't be bothered to cook haggis, we sell it in the can and it's delicious!
If you follow the shop on Facebook you will see updates on Burn’s events that are going on in Southern California. Find us at Scottish Treasures Celtic Corner and on Instagram and Twitter at ScotIrishShop.
Tricia Logan-Locke, Owner Scottish Treasures aka Celtic Corner
Image: Tain Haggis Serving Platter; hand-painted in Scotland and includes part of Selkirk Grace written by Robert Burns - we've got one left in stock and no plans to ship anymore over.