Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Happy Burns Night!

Today (the 25th of January) is the birthday of Scotland's favourite poet, Robert Burns (happy birthday wee man)!  In Scotland we celebrate by eating haggis, reciting some of his poems and enjoying a dram (or two of whisky).  Burns Suppers are quite popular and are held around this time of year - weekends are a good choice so that you don't need to worry about your hangover the next day!

I live in Melbourne and it has been very hot here the last few days, but this didn't stop me making veggie haggis for dinner last night (boy - was it sweaty in the kitchen yesterday)!  My husband and friends are vegetarian, however, I dont' think I would have cooked the meat haggis even if all the guests were meat eaters...yuck, no way!  I used this recipe which I just googled, and changed it a little bit to suit my own taste (I added cinnamon and chili,  and also swapped red wine in instead of the whisky).  I also put the haggis into short crust pastry and made haggis parcels - ofcourse, you don't need to do this, but it's another nice thing to do.  I served with mashed neeps and tatties and made onion gravy for on top....yummm!

This is a pretty traditional looking plate of haggis, neeps and tatties with lots of gravy of course!

Maybe you're reading this and thinking "Veggie haggis, how can that be haggis?!", well I suppose it isn't really 'proper' haggis, but it has the same consistency and general taste, and best of all there are no wierd parts of animals in it.  Back home in Scotland I always buy the McSween's veggie haggis from the supermarket which is just delicious!  My dad who is a meat lover, even prefers the veggie one over the meat version...and if dad says it is good, then it must be! 
This is the veggie haggis ....

Haggis traditionally is a bit of everything thrown in altogether - hence the yuck parts of animals, pigs blood etc, see here for a traditional recipe.  I have to say that I love it!!!  My favourite is chicken breast stuffed with haggis,wrapped in parma ham and smothered with cream-mushroom sauce....yum!!!

The Address to a Haggis poem was written by Burns in 1786 and is traditionally read when serving the haggis. 

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! 
Aboon them a' ye tak your place, 
Painch, tripe, or thairm : 
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace 
As lang's my 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, 
Warm-reekin', 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 make her spew 
Wi' perfect sconner, 
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view 
On sic a dinner? 

Poor devil! see him owre his trash, 
As feckless as wither'd rash, 
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash; 
His nieve a nit; 
Thro' bloody 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' 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 gratefu' prayer 
Gie her a haggis!

 And here it is live in action....

I thought this was pretty cool...

Haggis is great washed down with whisky, but even better with Irn Bru...

Let's not forget the bagpipes.....

Wherever you may be, happy Burns Night!