Today is Burns Night. Robert Burns (1759 – 1796) is Scotland’s bard and the Scots traditionally celebrate his birthday by piping in a haggis on a silver platter and reciting Burns’ poems throughout the evening. There may or may not be whisky drunk by the gallon too.
Haggis is the national dish of Scotland. Here’s the recipe if you want to make one quick before supper time. You’ll need:
1 sheep’s stomach bag
1 sheep’s pluck (i.e. liver, lungs and heart)
250g beef suet
salt and pepper
Don’t let the stomach bag and pluck thing put you off. Haggis is delicious, especially served with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes).
Once the haggis has been piped in (by bagpipers, obviously) the Selkirk Grace is recited over the dish.
The Selkirk Grace
Some hae meat and canna eat
And some wad eat that want it
But we had meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit
Then there’s Burns’ own tribute to the haggis written in 1786:
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
(for the whole poem, go to the BBC website, click on Burns Night and hear John Gordon Sinclair recite the whole poem. You’ll be none the wiser but it’s moving stuff)
Isn’t ‘sonsie’ a brilliant word? It means cheerful.
I’m off now to write a poem to the real ‘chieftain of the pudding race’, the Yorkshire Pudding, though I expect the bard of Barnsley, Ian Macmillan’s already done one.