Monday, January 25, 2010

It's about time!

Scots Jump for Joy as US Plans to Lift Haggis Ban

I've had the US version of it. Some of it is really good. Some of it would make a landfill cry. It's best served with a whiskey sauce.

Today is Robert Burns' Day, a time when Scots celebrate the life of the man dubbed the poet o' Scotland. He was born on January 25, 1759 and died July 21, 1797. There are all sorts of biographies about him which I will leave to your perusal. You probably know him best as the author of the New Year's Eve ubiquitous anthem "Auld Lang Syne", of which people only know the first verse.

Around this time of year, Scots will have what's called a "Burns Supper" where, in the U.S., a haggis knock off is served. It is usually piped into the room, meaning a bagpiper plays a tune while the haggis is brought into the room. The following is recited before the haggis is cut and served:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet 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 was 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 sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony 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;
Then 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 make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody 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 mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.

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!

Why haggis? The Scots have always been looked down upon by their English neighbors to the south. Considered beyond rustic, much of their culture was banned after the 1754 uprising lead by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, often referred to as "Bonnie" Prince Charlie. He didn't stand a chance in taking the throne of Scotland for himself but he did succeed in causing widespread hardship for those who supported him.

Haggis was born of hard times. When you don't have much to eat, you will make do with what you have. Is it gross? Well, it depends upon your definition of gross. I don't think it's any grosser than sausage. We all know what goes into that and yet we look forward to our brats and wurst.

I shall look to the east tonight and toast the Thompsons who came over on the British Bark "Sterling" in 1842.

Beverage: Water


No comments:

Post a Comment