Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Burns Night Supper

January 25th was the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. My husband is Scottish (from Scotland) and for many years, we have toyed with the idea of having a traditional Burns Night Supper. But we usually forget to plan for this until it is too late, or miss the date altogether. Last year, we managed to remember the date, but were completely unsuccessful at hunting down a haggis, the traditional main dish which plays an important part of the festivities. Janet @ Adventures in Ethics and Science made a lovely, non-haggis meal that I could definitely imagine being served in Scotland, but I'm not that creative, so last year we just read poems to each other, and hubby and I toasted with some Scotch whiskey.

But this year, we were really on the ball, and as Rabbie's big day approached, we had everything in place for the celebration. Hubby actually deserves the credit for this - at Christmastime he found a shop that imports all sorts of stuff from the UK and came home with a box full of Cadbury chocolates, Licorice Allsorts and other goodies that he loved to have at Christmas when he was a child. Also in the box was a Christmas Pudding and four haggis!

So we had a (relatively) proper Burns Night Supper last weekend. Hubby dressed up in his kilt, and though he skipped the formal Prince Charlie Jacket, he looked damn fine! Thing 1 wore her kilt as well, and she looked just beautiful! Thing 2 is in full-on "I'm a Princess" mode, so we convinced her to be a Scottish princess for the evening - she wore her tartan Christmas dress with her tiara. I wore a little black dress. Sorry, no pictures, but just trust me - we looked good! We served our guests cheese with oatcakes, some other appetizers and, of course, whiskey while I finished preparing the dinner.

The dinner went over amazingly well! We served haggis, mashed neeps (mashed turnips), tatties (mashed potatoes), and this really nice cabbage dish with bacon and sour cream (not traditionally Scottish, but it went well with the rest) and doused it all with a whiskey, mushroom and mustard cream sauce. YUM! Hubby read the "Address to a Haggis", and, with much drama, slit open the haggis with his sgian dubh, and everyone cheered (though I doubt they really understood much what was going on, what with the accent and dialect). Then he handed the knife to Thing 1, who slit open the second haggis. At some point, Thing 2 started chanting, "Kill the haggis!" and our guests joined in. Only one guest declined the haggis; everyone else tried it and several people had seconds. We finished off the dinner with a rich and delicious chocolate bread pudding.

We drank many toasts, and tossed about a fair bit of poetry. Thing 2 went off to bed prety early, but Thing 1 helped her dad read "To a Mouse" before she retired (they found a website that "translates" the poems into more standard English, but I'm not finding it right now). I read "A Man's a Man, For A' That" substituting in "Aw dat", since my brogue is, well, nonexistent. Then we drank some more toasts. A jolly good time was had by all. The only thing I would have liked to add to the evening is a ceilidh, but we have a pretty small apartment, and none of us play the right intruments.


hypoglycemiagirl said...

sounds like a lot of fun!

DNLee said...

thanks Acmegirl for correcting the carnival link. I fixed it.And you went all out. I like the widget you use to promote the carnival great!!!

Professor in Training said...

Cadbury's is my favourite chocolate in the Whole Wide World! Christmas pudding, on the other hand, is something that I hate with a passion - my mother makes it every year and apparently hers is the best but I'd much rather have just the ice cream and custard sans pudding ... or more Cadbury's.

acmegirl said...

PiT: I'm not too fond of the Christmas pudding, either. I'd be with you - more Cadbury's!

Ambivalent Academic said...

Yay! Sounds like a great Burns' Night!

My other half is also Scottish (from Scotland) and the haggis hunting is disappointing on this side of the pond. Our solution has been to buy several haggises on our annual trip to see his family, then freeze them and pack them in the suitcases for the flight. Technically haggis shouldn't make it through customs (I think they should probably confiscate it) but the US customs agent never has any idea what it is. We never fly through an airport with USDA sniffer dogs so we've never had a problem.

Do you mind sharing the website for the place you ordered your haggis from?

Glad you had such a nice and festive evening!

Comrade PhysioProf said...

That sounds totally fucking awesome!!!

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

YUM! Celebrated Burns' Night many years ago in a college in Oxford, and I loved the haggis, the good cheer, and the whole spirit of the evening. I loved the celebration of homeland that called up sincere emotion (the poetry) and yet didn't take itself overseriously (killing the haggis).

ScienceGirl said...

Mmmm, haggis. Of course, I have only had a Ukrainian version, but they are my absolute favorites! Your evening sounds absolutely awesome!

P.S. I too want to know where you get the haggis from.

Arlenna said...

What is up with the blogging science ladies with Scottish husbands (from Scotland)?! My husband is also such a man.

Acmegirl, I wish we lived in the same town because my husband was seriously down in the dumps about not getting to go to a good Burns Night party. Yours sounds perfect. We'll have to try to have one next year--I wish I knew where you got the haggis!

We used to go to my aunt's Burns party every year, and me, my mom and my dad dealt with the lack of a bagpipe player by being the human bagpipes. I can make a really awesomely horrendous "hneeeeeeeeee" sound--we WERE the bagpipes, man!