What exactly is in haggis?
26.01.2013 - 26.02.2013 39 °F
Haggis is not readily available in Washington DC; in fact butchers' shops as we know them are non existent and so the search begins for a purveyor of that finest of Scottish delicacies-the haggis! Where would we be without the Internet and I am rewarded within a short span of surfing time, with the US producer of "authentic" Scottish haggis prepared in Maine under contract from McKean's of Scotland, (never heard of the company but never mind!). Within the space of a few days, 8lbs of haggis is delivered to my apartment and I am anxious to sample for quality assurance purposes but that will have to wait...
With an extensive shopping list, I head for Eastern market and the "Yes!" organic store for the additional ingredients which will contribute to a Burns Supper menu for sixteen of my colleagues from Annandale High School. Anne (where would I be without her!) has very kindly opened up her home as a venue for proceedings and so all I need do is prepare the meal, enlist "volunteers" for key roles in the evening's festivities and set the programme.
Saturday January 26th (one day after the Bard's birthday): The tables are set, draped in tartan cloths (flannelette sheets but don't tell a soul!), Burns napkins, crystal, fine silverware and floral decoration. The meal is prepared: cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, bashed tatties and neeps, with cranachan (raspberries, cream, whisky and oatmeal) and to follow, coffee and shortbread. A bottle of "Tullibardine" malt whisky is on hand for the toasts.
As guests arrive, each is given a typical Scottish saying/expression with which they are assisted in the pronounciation of and are asked to weave into conversation at least three times during the course of the evening.
Let the supper begin!
Anne recites "The Selkirk Grace" and the soup is served.
Lyndsey has kindly volunteered to adopt the role of "Poosie Nancy" and ceremoniously carries in the haggis on a platter, accompanied by the skirl of the bagpipes!
I adopt my best Ayrshire brogue and address the haggis with the traditional opening verse of "Tae a haggis!" (I think the company are impressed if not somewhat puzzled by what I've just said!) Anyway, the haggis is removed to the kitchen for assembly with the accompanying traditional fare: neeps and tatties. No "traditional" "HP" sauce to accompany meal but a tasty "steak sauce" acts as a satisfactory replacement.
First -timers to haggis find the dish surprisingly tasty as long as they don't dwell too long on the ingredients. For my own part, I can't quite make up my mind if this is really haggis or some masquerading imposter. So many foods taste so different over here that I'm beginning to question my own taste judgements!
The Immortal Memory is delivered by yours truly and I am remarkably surprised (and relieved!) that x number of attendances at Burns' Suppers has paid off and that I can actually remember quite a lot about Robert Burns as well as throwing in a few personal refelctions on the man of my own.
Joe delivers the "Address tae the Lassies" with vigour and enthusiasm-it is very well received!
Vicky and Cindy both reply "fae the lassies" in their own unique style. (Cindy is still on the lookout for a man!)
Poems are read by Vicky, Melissa and Bill, each delivering their lines with mastery of the Scots tongue!
Vicky: "Sae Far Awa"
Melissa "Ae Fond Kiss"
Bill: "John Anderson My Joe"
Determing that I need to know the extent of Americans knowledge of Scotland, the evening is rounded off with a quiz on "Who Are the Scots?"
This proves to be illuminating as no, Aberdeen is NOT the capital of Scotland!!!
(I'll probably be given a quiz on USA before I leave just to get me back!).
A truly warm, fun and memorable evening was rounded off with Cindy's rendition of "The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen"-what more could I ask for?!
Happy Burns' Night- USA 2013