My Birthday has always clashed with Rabbie Burns's birthday. So tonight I'm going to forgive the old jock and treat my birthday night guests to a traditional Burns night meal of Haggis, Neeps and tatties.
I collected my specially delivered Haggis yesterday from the English shop (on the third visit of the day - the van was delayed in arrival due to snow in Scotland apparently). Bought two turnips and I'm all ready to go.
In the English shop the owner pulled a face at what goes into a haggis. I had a look on the lable and there are only 5 ingredients listed. Sheep offal is the first one, the rest is all flavourings and a binding ingredient. Standard kebab ingredients then mainly.
The English shop provided the haggis with a 4 page guide to running a succesfully Burns night party. But we have decided to exchange all the pomp and ceremony of toasting the haggis and 'toast to the lassies' etc. with a more up to date post dinner poker tournament.
The 4-page guide also mentions other traditional scottish fayre that is available at the Stonemanor supermarket. "Cock-a-leekie soup" and "Tunnocks teacakes" among the highlights.
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 my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin was 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' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.
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!
Rabbie Burns, 1759-1796