Monday, January 19, 2009

Burns Dinner

Last Sunday night I attended a Robert (Bobbie) Burns Dinner. It is the 250 anniversary of his birth. Don't know who he is,well in all likelihood you sing one of his poems set to music on New Years Eve. Yes in the mid 16th century he wrote Auld Lang Syne. In his short life he wrote many other poems. The thing about him is that he wrote in the vernacular speech of his time. A mixture of Highland Scottish and English. In his time he was looked down upon because of this. However his brilliance was recognized after his death. As a tribute every year dinners all over the world are held in his honor by Scots. They follow a loose protocol. The picture below shows the end of the Pipping in of the Haggis.

This one shows the man reciting the "Address to a Haggis". This is a poem that Burns wrote. During this the man takes his dirk (knife) and cuts the haggis open in the shape of a cross. What is Haggis you ask? It is a traditional dish of sheep innards, onion, barley, oats, and blood stuffed in a sheep's stomach and then steamed. Don't worry most dinners do not follow this recipe. The haggis that night was a canned product bought on the Internet and was Highland beef without the blood. It was stuffed in a pig's stomach and steamed. Think Ponce or Boudin. Barley instead of rice, beef instead of pork.

This was the dinner that followed. Usually Roast Beef, Tatties, Neeps, and a vegetable. The cook here outdid himself. The roast was plastic fork tender, moist and full of flavor. Tatties are potatoes and here are mashed. Neeps are suppose to be yellow turnips (swedes) or what we know as rutabagas. Somewhere along the line they became white turnips in the US. They were cooked Cajun style as was the green beans with bacon and medium spice. All in all quite delicious for banquet style

A scoop of peach cobbler. They also had blackberry and bread pudding.

Finally a plate of haggis was brought to each table so that people like me who wanted to taste it could. As you would suspect I loved it. I would like to taste the original but that is not likely to happen.

The evening ended with recital of some of Burn's poetry, bagpipe music, and ballads from a minstrel on guitar. Quite enjoyable and something I would consider doing again. The Celtic Nations Foundation sponsored it and it was held at the Monsignor DeBlanc Center

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