Thursday, February 2, 2023

Robbie Burns and Haggis!

I don't get many chances to eat haggis, Scotland's national dish, but a week ago was Robbie Burns' birthday and the local Anglican church had a Burns Dinner, complete with haggis.  Who was Robbie Burns you ask?  If you have to ask, obviously you're not Scottish!  Robbie Burns is Scotland's best known and most revered poet.  Living only 37 years in the late 1700s, and writing in the Scots vernacular, Burns' birthday was on Jan. 25th, so wherever Scots have settled, Burns Dinners are held to celebrate.

The dinner follows a traditional and sometimes very formal sequence, with the haggis piped in to start the affair.  The haggis bearer precedes the bagpiper into the room, though I almost missed that haggis in my photo!

Our host confronted the haggis, reading for the assembled throng 'Address to a Haggis' by Burns.  It begins:

Fair fa' your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race,

and extends 48 lines to the end before we can eat.  At the appropriate moment our host stabbed the haggis open, ready to serve.

There followed the toast to the haggis.  I think both the haggis bearer and the piper had something other than tomato juice in their glasses!  If you look closely you'll see that the piper is not drinking from a typical small toast glass either.

This is that traditional Scottish drinking bowl, a 'quaich'.  No tomato juice in there!

As Mrs. F.G. would say, put a man in a kilt .... he kindly posed for her.

And here finally is our delicious Burns dinner, roast beef, veggies and haggis.  I skipped the potatoes so I could get a double serving of haggis!

And for all of you who want to know, haggis is composed of minced beef and oats mainly, with a chunk of suet, and the heart, lungs (some would say tongue) and liver of a sheep (a combination called 'lamb's pluck), all stuffed in a sheep's stomach or ox bung (essentially a very large sausage casing).  It looks like a round nicely browned loaf of bread until it's cut open for serving.

Burns' best known poem is undoubtedly 'Auld Lang Syne', sung all over the English-speaking world on New Year's Eve, to bid farewell to the year past.  Even if you don't recognize Burns himself, you probably know that poem - though I bet you don't know the second and third verses!


  1. That red vest sweater is a lot like one that I wore in the 80s. I loved that sweater.

  2. That looks delicious. Warm greetings!

  3. We tried haggis in Scotland! We liked it but once was enough. The thought of it more than the taste put me off.

  4. If they left out the innards of the sheep, I'd be happy to try haggis. But then, I guess it would just be meatloaf. Glad you had an enjoyable time.

  5. Sounds like a fun time.
    I love to listen to bagpipes.

  6. Well, I think I'll leave you to enjoy the haggis, which sounds awful but must taste pretty good!

  7. If you like haggis (and it sounds like you do) you'd probably like one of my favorites, pinkelwurst. Pinkel is made from pork, bacon, fat, onion and spices in a very large sausage casing and is served with kale and boiled potatoes -- great on a cold winter night, although we don't have many of those anymore.

  8. I have a lovely recipe for vegetarian haggis. My Scottish father would not approve!

  9. We were in Scotland years ago and my husband was able to eat haggis and he liked it. I remember being there when I read this blog post. I'm sure I've sang more than one verse of auld lang zine but don't remember it from my brain as I'd have to look it up. I'm glad you enjoyed the festival with your wife.

    1. Haggis looks like a sourdough bread bowl that you a picture of.

  10. This looks like fun. I recall my parents going to these at their church in Muskoka.

  11. Very Interesting...I agree I like a man in a kilt:)

  12. I probably would have liked that dinner but minus the haggis of course. I'm not a very adventuresome eater.