I have the privilege of sharing a birthday with Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet.
On January 25, all across Scotland — and in diaspora communities — people gather for what’s called a Burns supper. It’s a festive event, complete with poetry readings, toasts, songs and a Ceilidh (traditional Scottish dance). Naturally, the dress code is a kilt, and each clan has a special tartan for such formal occasions.
The menu is traditional: Cock-a-leekie soup, followed by haggis served with ‘neeps and tatties, and for dessert cranachan and a dram of whisky. Confused?
Here’s the menu in English: Leek soup in a chicken broth with rice; sheep’s offal mixed with vegetables and oats and cooked in the lining of a sheep’s stomach; mashed potatoes and rutabaga; and whipped cream served with toasted oats, raspberries and honey with a tipple of whisky.
Bagpipers accompany the serving of the haggis, followed by a recitation of Burns’ affectionate “Address to a haggis.”
As a vegetarian I was never privileged to sample real haggis. Some might say I was lucky to avoid it, but when I lived in Scotland I had French and Spanish friends who got so hooked on haggis they regularly cooked it for dinner. There is a kosher version available, but you’ll have to fly to Glasgow to purchase it. Fittingly, it’s typically only available this time of year, so attend a Burns supper while you’re there.
In the words of the immortal poet: “Here’s a bottle and an honest friend! What wad ye wish for mair, man?”
Shana Goldberg may be reached at email@example.com
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