Posts Tagged ‘Haggis’

Cherbourg and I would like to wish you all a Happy Burns Night! Note: Cherbourg is my familiar and travelling companion, in the form of an orange octopus, if you don’t already know him.

Cherbourg practicing his "Ode to the Haggis", Burns Night January 2015 (My photo).

Cherbourg practicing his “Ode to the Haggis”, Burns Night January 2015 (My photo).

My favourite Robert Burns poem is unquestionably Tam O’Shanter, an epic ghost story (with entertaining social commentary) taking place one night in the drinking establishments and on the streets of Ayr. The language is striking, funny, rich, and just generally wonderful. You can watch an animation here, with Brian Cox (actor, not physicist!) reading the poem. It was created by Spiral Productions for the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, in Alloway, near Ayr.

I’ve never made a haggis from scratch myself, and am not sure how easy it would be these days to get all the necessary ingredients, but there is a recipe in the Glasgow Cookery Book which sounds wonderful, with a vivid language and poetry (possibly the Poetry of Ew, to the more squeamish) in itself. You can read it in the photo below.

How to make haggis from scratch, the Glasgow Cookery Book, p.126 (1962 edition; my photo).

How to make haggis from scratch, the Glasgow Cookery Book, p.126 (1962 edition; my photo).

Once made, you mix it with neeps and tatties, and tuck in:

Cherbourg enjoying his haggis, neeps, and tattoos (my photo).

Cherbourg enjoying his haggis, neeps, and tatties (my photo).

It’s quite common to give the haggis its own wee dram of whisky, and to have one yourself. Sometimes you can go too far, however, with both whisky and haggis:

Cherbourg overdid both the haggis and the whisky (my photo).

Cherbourg overdid both the haggis and the whisky (my photo).

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Andrew Jack’s blue sheep for St Andrew’s Day (Image via BBC)

Happy Saint Andrew’s Day! What are you doing today? Haggis is of course on the menu for tonight’s dinner, but there are other ways to celebrate. You could follow in farmer Andrew Jack’s footsteps by temporarily dying your pets blue. You could dye yourself blue as well, but with that may come unfortunate Mel Gibson associations.

There are various stories as to how St Andrew became Scotland’s patron saint, and how some of his relics came to Scotland. Although most of his remains were taken by his disciple the Emperor Constantine to Constantinople, there is a legend that the Bishop of Patrae, St Rule (also known as St Regulus), was directed in a divine vision to take the relics, and founded a church in Fife, where his ship was wrecked upon the Scottish coast. Unfortunately, these relics were destroyed in the Reformation. Perhaps, if you’ve been organised this year, you may have created your own pilgrimage route to follow the path taken by the Scottish relics, to arrive at the town of St Andrews today. It’s actually an interesting idea; there are relics of St Andrew throughout Europe, including Amalfi in Italy, Patros in Greece, and our own St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh. I would add Istanbul, once Constantinople, for historical reasons and in order to see the Hagia Sophia, which I have long wished to visit. Perhaps another year. It’s an interesting idea, and would still incorporate the traditional meal of haggis, neeps, and tatties, at the end of the adventure. Great journeys needs must end with great feasting. It’s one of the rules of questing.

However you spend today, enjoy. Seek out companions, good food, and hearty grog. Happy Saint Andrew’s Day!

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St Andrew, f.183v from the 'Hours of Francois of Guise'

Happy St Andrew's Day!

My diet at present most definitely erring on the side of “less is more”, this will be the first St. Andrew‘s Day dinner in a long time when I have not had haggis. It only occurred to me this evening, now that the local butcher shops are closed, that I could have attempted it in some kind of soup form, given that’s all I really eat at present, albeit in several wonderful variations. It turns out that there are many recipes for such concoctions, including creations by the likes of Nick Nairn, Waitrose (neither Delia nor Heston are taking responsibility here) and the Whisky Kitchen. I may have to see if I can find a MacSween haggis tomorrow and try out one of these.

Which would you choose?

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