Last Friday was Burns Night, the annual celebration of the life Scots poet Rabbie Burns in which folk gather to eat haggis, neeps and tatties, washed down with poems and whisky.
Gareth and I had been invited to a proper Burns Supper but were both rotten with the cold, so it was haggis at home. Every year I forget about the Haggis Poisoning until it’s too late. This is the technical term for the following process:
- Getting excited about Burns night – a glimmer of fun at the end of miserable January
- Shopping for the haggis, umm-ing and ahh-ing between traditional or vegetarian style
- Spending an age cooking it, along with the mashed potatoes and the turnips that make the house whiff like old socks
- Ceremoniously stabbing the haggis open with a knife, the room filling with a delicious spicy, savoury aroma. Suddenly it’s all, Forget television and telephones, haggis is the great Scottish invention of all time
- Piling a mountain of food on your plate as you quiver in anticipation
- After half a dozen mouthfuls it all floods back – the overwhelming richness of the haggis-neeps-tatties trio
- Downing a glass of whisky before collapsing on the couch and vowing never to do it again
This year Gareth was in a merry mood and actually recited a few verses of Address to a haggis. Well, he read them off my phone, standing in the kitchen. I think more great foods should be proceeded by a poem in their honour.
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan 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
And on it goes for another 275 stanzas.
Sure enough, despite the tastiness of the dinner (I mash spuds like a demon) I was quickly done in. All that oats and offal combined with fluffy carb mountains? I’m oot, Duncan Bannatyne-stylee.
“Oh good, more for me!” Gareth said, scraping the contents of my plate on to his.
“You think you want more but you are going to hit the haggis wall about five minutes from now.”
“No way man, I’m starving. I’m Scottish and I can take it.”
Five minutes later.
“Oh god. Help me. Haggis poisoning!”
We vowed to never again scoff the haggis. Until next January rolls around then we’ll do the dance again.
Sidenote: Whisky is brilliant. I only had a wussy dribble in the bottom of my Soviet dictators glass but it was enough to make me feel unstoppable. Forget the ‘flu; the whisky blazed a path down my throat and hosed the muck right out of my lungs. Temporarily, anyway. Magical stuff.
I like how Australia Day comes right after Burn’s Night. It makes both digestive and spiritual sense that they’re nestled together. On January 26 I made a hamburger with the lot for dinner. They’re quite healthy if you cook them right and don’t have a pile of chips on the side. I also skipped the egg as I couldn’t be bothered washing another pan.
Anyway, it was delicious (but unphotogenic). I should have written a Burns-inspired Ballad of the Burger With The Lot. Once again I tried to convert Gareth to the merits of beetroot but he’s still having none of it.