Thursday, January 22, 2009

Burns Night

This Sunday, January 25th is 2009's Burns Night. What is a Burns Night you ask? Well first it is a dinner normally held on or near the poet Robert Burn's birthday. The first Burns Night suppers were held in Ayrshire (Scotland) at the end of the 18th century by his friends on the anniversary of his death, July 21, In Memoriam and they have been a regular occurrence ever since. This year is particularly significant as it marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of poet Robert Burns, Scotland's favorite son. For those of you who were not English Majors, Burns authored such immortal works as A Red Red Rose and Auld Lang Syne.

Burns Night has become a night of merriment, usually begun by raising your glasses high and saying The Selkirk Grace, the traditional opening toast of the Burns Supper.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
and some wad eat that want it,
but we hae meat and we can eat,
and sae the Lord be thankit.

The dinner also includes the serving of a large haggis with tatties (potatoes) and neeps (turnips). The hagis is presented to much fanfare and for Burns Night includes the recitation of the Address to a Haggis toast.

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 you 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 stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The 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 bloody 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!

From there, other highlights in the itinerary include the Immortal Memory address, the Toast to the Lassies and the recitation of songs and poems, particularly the narrative poem Tam o’ Shanter.

Dessert is a bit more flexible than the rest of the evening, but should include a dram or two of Scotch. I'd propose a crowdie cream.

1 Tbs. melted butter
4 to 5 Tbs. medium-size oats (reserve a small amount to use as a garnish)
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. Scotch whisky
Approximately 1 cup raspberries
Sprig of mint for garnish

1) Lightly brown oats in a pan that has been coated with cooking spray or a little melted butter. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2) Beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add honey and then whisky then fold in the toasted oats, reserving a few for garnish.

3) Layer in a tall glass, beginning with a small amount of raspberries, then whipped-cream mixture. Alternate layers of raspberries and cream, ending with a few berries. Garnish with toasted oats and a sprig of mint.

Finally, the dinner is concluded with a chorus of Auld Lang Syne. We should be well rehearsed after New Years Eve.


Pigtown-Design said...

Did you ever eat something called tablet in Scotland? It's a dessert sort of thing.

I was going to post about Burns Day, too.

Athenaeus said...

Pigtown - I have had taiblet at a confectioners shop on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh (the Holyrood end), it was a fudgelike confection only a bit more dry and crumbly. It was good, though a bit too sweat for me. I remember thinking I would add orange zest to cut through the shocking sweetness if I ever tried it at home.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

I've always wanted to do one of these. Especially since my father-in-law could pipe in the haggis. Well that and an excuse to break out the whisky.

Pigtown-Design said...

Athanaeus... I am remembering it similarly. As sort of a white fudge without the chocolate.

When I lived in the UK, I interviewed three times for a position at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, but ended not being chosen because i wasn't Scottish! Ya think??? As soon as I opened my mouth or read my resume, they would have known! I would have lived there in a heartbeat!