Wednesday, January 30, 2008

hankerin' for haggis


Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,

While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut ye up wi' ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they strech an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit!' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An' legs, an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o 'fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
- Robert Burns, Address To The Haggis
***

As Mom's maiden name is Craig, I figure there's a drop of Scotsman buried in my background. Nobody's ever made a great deal out of this, which may explain why I had never been to a Robbie Burns Day celebration until last week. Nadia rounded up a group to check out the festivities at the Duke of York, with yours truly as the only non-philosopher of the group.

One of our key aims: to test the haggis!

Haggis and Tatties, Topped with Onion Gravy
You'll notice a distinct lack of neeps. Turnips and I maintain a tense relationship, so it seemed best to go for a double serving of tatties.

About to Attack the Haggis
Hilary about to dig in.

***

Sidebar: It is only in recent years that I have started to like meatloaf-style dishes. There could be several reasons I disliked meatloaf growing up, ranging from an excess of onions in Mom's version to a brief period where I disliked ground meat. I suspect if she made it now, I'd probably ask for seconds.

***

My hand didn't tremble when I took my first bite. It had no reason to, as I discovered I liked whatever had been ground into the giant slices sitting in front of me. It didn't take long for my plate to clear. Definitely had better seasonings and texture than scrapple.

***

Shortly after we finished eating, the ceremonial portion of the evening reached the second floor. A bagpiper led in the haggis, followed by the required recitation of Burns' Address To a Haggis.

Address To a Haggis
Fears of a man dressed as a haggis while uttering the ode were unfounded, though the delicacy's placement under the mens room sign was suspect. Oddly, the only full-blooded Scot at our table was the one person not to have haggis, opting for a veggie burger.

The Duke of York
39 Prince Arthur Avenue (at Bedford)


More on the meal at Squiddity. - JB

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