Miscellany

Anything but Haggis

Today is the official day celebrating Scottish poet Robert Burns. Most people indirectly know Burns through his poem Auld Lang Syne, since it is typically sung at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Given that it is a poem about getting over past injustices and moving on, that’s appropriate. (As an aside, I mentioned this to students a few years ago. “You know the song we sing at midnight, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot…'” The response I got was “Nah miss, we sing ‘New York, New York’ ” 🤦🏼‍♀️)

As a person, Burns was–as the kiddos say–a player, being the Baby Daddy to twelve confirmed children (though I have read as many as 14) by four different mothers. But by all accounts, he was a good father to his ‘bastart’ children, penning poems about them.

It’s appropriate that me, a romance writer, likes Burns, since the guy believed in Free Love in the late 18th century. (Though in general, much of the 18th century was far more lascivious than presented in history books. More on that in another post.)

The official dish of Burns Day is Haggis, which is not–despite what you might have been told by mischievous tour guides–an animal. It is a dish made up of all the parts of a cow sane people throw away sewn into a sheep’s stomach with random spices and oatmeal then the whole lot is boiled. (Yes, I know it was a dish eaten by the rural poor. It’s still parts no one wanted.)

Now Haggis…is gross. I’ve eaten it before and generally don’t recommend it as a dish, maybe as a dare, but not a dinner. We attended a Burns Day celebration a few years back, and I could not be cajoled into trying it. I’d fallen for that before.

Deceptively innocent looking, isn’t it?

I do, however, recommend attending a Burns Day dinner. It’s good fun, there’s whisky, music, dancing, bagpipers, and the presentation of the haggis and the reading of “Address to a Haggis,” which contains the memorable line describing what you’re about to eat. “The groaning trencher there you fill/ Your buttocks like a distant hill.”

Just makes you want to taste it, doesn’t it?

The presentation of the Haggis during Burns Night at Plough and Stars, Philadelphia–in the before times.

As for me, Haggis hater that I am, I’m going to have some buttered shortbread and tea this afternoon, and tonight, I’ll raise a glass of whisky later to the immortal Bard of Scotland.

You should, too.

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