Burns Night 2018: Scottish Takeaway Classics!
Ode to a haggis? January 25 — this Thursday — is Burns Night or Burns Supper, a raucous and joyful celebration of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. All throughout Scotland (and Northern Ireland!) groups gather to enjoy the dinner, recite Burns’ poetry, and remember a remarkable literary figure. And, of course…TO EAT.
Who was Robbie Burns?
Burns was born in Scotland in 1787 on the 25th Jan (hence the date). He is regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is appreciated worldwide as one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement. He, also, as it happens, was a stone cold fox.
What happens at Burns Supper?
Once the guests have gathered, the host will begin proceedings with a welcoming speech. Everyone is seated a prayer is said: typically, that’ll be Selkirk Grace which was used by Burns himself during a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk, and was (most likely) written by him.
Next, the food — generally considered the most important part of any dinner party. It’ll kick off with a soup (usually broth- or potato-based), but the main course is the one, the only, the Haggis. Taking its rightful place at the centre stage of any Burns supper, the haggis is carried into the room ceremoniously. Everyone is required to stand and, ideally, bagpipes will play as the haggis is delivered to the host. Once the piper has played a few traditional melodies, it is customary for the host to recite the Address to a Haggis.
Address to a Haggis
For those of you who are planning a Burns Supper of your own, we couldn’t help but include it:
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 o’ 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 dicht,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Is there that o’re his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect scunner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him ower 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 wallie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whistle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thristle.
Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!
Now once the address is complete there is a whisky toast to the haggis. (How many dishes can claim that?) And THEN the eating begins. The haggis is served with mashed turnips and mashed potatoes (that’s “neeps and tatties” to you!) and there is often plenty of that previously mentioned whisky to accompany the food. (DRY JANUARY? Who am I to diss tradition!)
[*Musical interlude for the eating part…*]
Burns Night Speeches:
Everyone’s favourite digestive activity. Speeches!
- an appreciation for Robert Burns himself
- a speech of thanks from the host
- a “Toast to the Lassies”
- …followed by a reply (“Toast to the Laddies!”)
Capping off the evening: some of Burns’s classics being sung or recited, including To a Mouse, To a Louse, and Tam o’ Shanter. For the grand finale, guests will join hands and sing “Auld Lang Syne”. For those of you who are new to this, we promise we’re not making this up.
Ask an American friend to tell you 10 things about Scotland. Guaranteed to make the cut: Kilts, Whisky, Deep-fried Mars Bar, Brave Heart, Sean Connery, Groundskeeper Willie…maybe Irn-Bru, if they’re really cultured. And, of course, Haggis will no doubt be on the tips of their tongues. But too bad for them! It’s been banned in the USA since 1971 owing to the sheep-lung part of the delectable haggis equation. To which we say: Yir aff yir heid!
What is haggis?
Haggis is a savoury pudding that contains the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep and is also mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and stock. If that’s not enough different animal parts for your satisfaction, how about stuffing your mince into an animal’s stomach for good measure?
And guess what: it’s DELICIOUS.
You naysayers are in for a fight. With us. (…If that wasn’t clear.)
Nothing screams the heartiness of Scottish cuisine more than haggis. Served by takeaways across the UK, haggis crops up in traditional servings of neeps and tatties (that’s turnips and potatoes for the uninitiated), however, other takeaways have taken Scotland’s national dish and put a thoroughly modern twist on it, such as haggis-inspired pizzas.
Haggis with a modern twist
More Scottish takeaway classics…
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken tikka masala has been a sure-fire hit with takeaway lovers from across the UK since its reported inception in the curry houses of Glasgow in the 1970s. The dish has become the modern face of Scottish takeaway, and its wonderfully rich, luscious texture and spicy flavours are enjoyed by hungry Brits week in, week out.
Deep-fried Mars Bar
Depending on who you talk to, the Scottish habit of deep-frying their food is either the greatest contribution to late-night takeaway ever or the spectre of a national health crisis. Like it or love it (those are your options), its popularity with punters has led to many takeaways south of the border to get in the crispy flaky molten chocolate game. True masters of fried cuisine, Cafe Piccante in Edinburgh, are tough to beat. They don’t just stop at deep-fried Mars bars, having concocted a delicious “Half Crunch” battered pizza.
Originally hailing from Aberdeenshire, Angus Beef is known around the world for its tender and succulent taste, a byword for premium quality. Many takeaways on hungryhouse deliver Angus beefburgers, so all that’s left is to get to the toppings drawing board. We’ll take ours hot and spicy with jalapenos, fresh salad, mature cheese and dollops of extra spicy sauce.
Lorne Sausages & the Scottish Breakfast
Proudly confusing English people who have popped over the border for years now, Lorne sausages are an essential ingredient of a traditional Scottish breakfast. The distinctive square-shaped sausages come from the small town of Lorne on the west coast of Scotland and combine a mouth-watering mix of beef and pork that perfectly compliment the black pudding and fried toast of a traditional Scottish breakfast.
Sounds like a perfect way to wake up on January 26.
Will you be celebrating this year’s Burns Night?