#72 Burns Night and an hommage to haggis

In Food & Drink on January 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Like many other Londoners who came from the North but sound like they grew up in Kent, there are certain times when my paternal lineage bubbles up and I come over all Scots: New Year’s Eve, St Andrew’s Day, whenever Scotland beat England at something, discussion of tuition fees, listening to Alex Salmond choose the Proclaimers on Desert Island Discs, hearing people sing the wrong words to Auld Lang Syne (and feeling compelled to correct them), watching Local Hero/Gregory’s Girl, and of course Burns Night.

Even though I didn’t move to Scotland until I was a teenager, I feel that having grown up in Seventies Manchester with a father who insisted on wearing the kilt at all times (full highland dress for parties), and having endured the embarrassment of walking down the road with him followed by Casuals and Skins doing imitation highland flings, has left me with enough psychological scars to have earned me the right to fairweather citizenship. Not to mention being sent to the shops with foreign-looking Scottish currency just to prove a point. Or subsequently attending an all-girls school in Scotland where  the closest we ever got to clubbing was a Scottish Country Dancing evening with a suitably posh boys’ school. [I’ve since developed quite a fondness for kilts and ceilidhs, but not so much posh boys.]

Plus I actually like haggis.

And Tunnock’s Teacakes. And Irn-Brew. And chips with ‘salt and sauce’.

So back to Burns, whose birthday on 25 January 1759 is celebrated tomorrow by the sorts of people who are prone to revving up their Rs when talking about Billy Connolly and insist on calling 31 Dec Hogmanay.

Time Out has suggestions of restaurants and events for Burns’ Night that are probably less authentic but more fun than the real thing. Last year my mother, who lives in a sleepy Scottish fishing village but is English and therefore slightly cynical about Scottish traditions, sent me a photo from their local Burns Supper showing, as she put it ‘a grown man talking to a plate of tartan-clad offal’ (the great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race was actually wearing some sort of tartan two-piece). Now there’s a Hoxton alt.club night waiting to happen.

Nor do I advise going into your local French wine shop in search of something to complement haggis, and then having to describe the dish to disbelieving Gauls. And the French eat all sorts.

Personally I’ve had a splendid time the past couple of years at friends where the haggis has is piped in by a genuine SE15 piper, the address read by a staunch Rangers fan (who has probably also spent more than half his life living in England), some very fine Islay and Speyside malts are drunk, neeps are mashed, the gushing entrails of one of Macsween’s finest are a glorious sight, and merry adults attempt Strip the Willow in a Nunhead kitchen as glasses crash around them and streetwise 12 year olds look on in horror, incomprehension, and embarrassment.

Meanwhile I read that the Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary has invited an American delegation to Scotland to try to get them to overturn their 40 year ban on haggis in the US. Good luck to them. Apparently Americans have a problem with sheep’s lungs in food produce. And yet they are fine with spray-on cheese.

For those of you in South London who’ve been asking, Macsween’s haggis is available just about all year round in Roses butcher, and from Sparks, and makes a good winter tea with baked potatoes.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Midlife Manual, Jessica CT. Jessica CT said: #72 Burns Night and an hommage to haggis: http://wp.me/pF383-gx […]

  2. A true Scot lives in London – to save the train fare.

    Old joke, and I was born here (well Barking, Essex), but my grandfather transferred to West Ham from Hearts. I still have family in Crieff.

    I often do a Burns night with vegetarian Haggis for us and meat for others.

    This year’s Burns night is also 25 years since Murdoch moved to Wapping. However you look at that it had a huge impact on journalism and journalists.

    One recommendation for Burns Night is Eddi Reader’s version of some of Robert Burns’ songs. There is an extended version out now, though I have the original. Well worth buying. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sings-Songs-Robert-Burns-Expanded/dp/B001KVW59W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1295878910&sr=8-2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: