A lot has been written about Robert Burns, Burns Night and the tradition of Burns Supper. The great man has been dead for over 250 years. His birthday has been marked for many of those years and a strong tradition has been built up around the 25th January. If you would like to know more then the internet is indeed your oyster, this blog isn't the place to be. I know not one poem or ode from start to finish. I can't tell you where Rabbie was born or where he died but I do know how to mark tradition.
That said, I was not raised with this as a traditional meal. My parents moved from Edinburgh on their Honeymoon. Their destination was Dudley in The Black Country as my Dad had just landed a plum new job. I can only assume that Haggis wasn't readily available in the 70's in England which is why I missed out for so many years.
I have now been to my fair share of Burns Suppers. Dinner parties at University, house parties with stovies* served after midnight and everything in-between. The grandest affair was in the Officers Mess at Woolwich. It was the last time that Burns Night would be celebrated there as merging battalions meant that Woolwich was being sold off. All of the regimental silver was out for the occasion, along with so many polished buttons that the chandeliers were jealous.
I'm on record as preferring my haggis, tatties and neeps unadulterated, no sauces, no garnishes, no flair. The army didn't agree with me on this one. Dainty pastry baskets held the neatly turned scoop of haggis. The tatties and neeps where not mashed. The thing that really stood out was the speech. I don't know if you have sat through a poor after dinner speech, if you have I bet this one was worse. It was not the poor attempt at a Scottish accent, nor was it the off taste "blue" jokes. The problem was the amount of alcohol that had been consumed prior to the speech starting. Lets just say that the laughs dried up long before the port did.
Tonight we have been a lot more traditional, no airs and graces, no wall to wall silver and no speeches. The meal has been served in just as I like it and, for the record, this is the third time we have had haggis this year. It just goes to show that haggis is for life, not just for Burns Night.
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.
*ask me about stovies another time.