To a Haggis by Robert Burns
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm :
Weel are ye wordy o’a grace
As lang’s my arm.
Once a year (maybe twice when a Scot is winning at Wimbledon) the English poach something completely Scottish. Burns Night on January 25th is best celebrated north of the border although London does have a few places to pay homage to the life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet.
A Burns Night Supper is quite a ritual and while it includes knocking back many drams of whisky, there is a specific order to the festivities.
It begins with the chairman’s welcome and the Selkirk Grace before moving on to a menu of traditional Scottish fare of haggis, neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes). The haggis, a weekly favorite of Burns, is a concoction of sheep’s liver, heart and lungs with onions, oatmeal and spices cooked in a sausage-like casing. Proudly paraded into the dining room escorted by the chef and to the bleating of bigpipes, the haggis is the guest of honor. Burns’ To A Haggis (1st verse above) is read in its entirety while the haggis is ceremoniously cut open to cheers and a toast from the crowd. Cue more music, poetry readings and speeches immortalizing Robert Burns throughout the meal. Finally, the evening closes after more toasts and a whisky infused group rendition of Burns’ Auld Lang Syne.
Proper Burns Night Suppers in London
- Scottish restaurant and whisky bar Albannach in Trafalgar Sqaure is hosting a traditional evening with a 5 course Burns Night Supper
- Boisdale in Bishopsgate and Belgravia is celebrating with personal haggis piping ceremonies now through January 25th
- Talisker Whiskey is hosting a Burns Night party at The River Lounge, St Katherine’s Dock, call +44 (0)20 7025 7592 to book
Feature image: haggis by zoonabar/flickr