BURNS' NIGHT 🏴
GREAT CHIEFTAIN O’ THE PUDDIN’ RACE!
January can be a bleak, long month. Blue Monday. Dry January.
How about another new-fangled diet, or a short-lived gym routine?
But towards the end of it, I perk up in anticipation of Burns’ Night.
My Dry January only really ever makes it until the 25th,
a time to address the Haggis and share a wee dram with friends.
Every year, I perform ceremonial duties at home and in the studio, kilted up,
a skean dhu poised in one hand, Burns’ Poetical Works in the other.
I once presented a haggis at a client pitch, I can’t remember why exactly (perhaps it coincided with Burns’ Night), but it didn’t seem to put them off choosing to work with us. Although I’m not sure the Haggis was ever consumed?
Beyond the desire for a good knees-up and toasting goodbye to January,
Burns’ Night is a perfect recipe for an amazing dinner experience, one that most
food and drink brands would fall over themselves for. A feast for all the senses.
Part of the charm of Burns’ Night lies in the storytelling and mystique behind the man. ‘Rabbie’ Burns, as he is still fondly known, was a popular Scottish poet, admired as much for his verse as his high-spirits, love life, 'kirk-defying' and hard-drinking!
A CULTURAL ICON
What positions Burns differently, is that he wore his heart on his sleeve –
one of unbridled passion – and as we all know, emotion is a more effective
creative lever over the long-term. The fact that he died in 1796 (at only 37),
lays testament to the popularity and longevity of his legacy.
THE YOUNG ROMANTIC
Spontaneity, directness, sincerity, tenderness and humour fluctuate
throughout Burns’ works. His vulnerability and humanity connect with people.
Every year, we take a family holiday to a little village called Kenmore, nestled on the
banks of Loch Tay. The Inn there claims to be Scotland’s oldest, established in 1572.
Above the chimney-piece in the bar, is a poem scratched in pencil by Burns after a
day’s walking through the Breadlebane hillsides in 1787. He was so moved by the
welcome he received, after a few whiskies, he composed a poem on the spot,
still visible today. What it reveals is an ode to nature and a romanticism that is his
signature tone of voice.
A WEE BEASTIE?
To the uninitiated, the Haggis has often been mistaken for a wee beastie,
roaming unchecked through the Scottish Highlands. But this unusual culinary icon (the contents of which are best left unknown to some) forms the centre-piece for Burns’ Night supper – its key, distinctive asset. Easy to draw, popularise and meme even!
The presentation of the Haggis (piped in of course!) and the address:
‘Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!’
is a dining experience ritual that connects with tradition, provides
optimism through conviviality and allows tribal affirmation!
The Haggis is presented whole, ready for its grisly demise.
But on more than one occasion, once by my mother-in-law, the other
by a studio manager, it was served like mince on a bed of salad garnish.
If that ever happens to you, leave immediately!
The assault on all the senses continues as the kilted host’s skean dhu is plunged
into the poor wee haggis to the jingle ‘An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
trenching your gushing entrails bricht, like ony ditch’. Served with the
unmistakable aroma of a single malt whisky, a heady, potent smell fills the air.
That’s not to say Burns’ Night is the reserve of the carnivorous. Each year, we serve a fine vegetarian haggis, equally as popular as its meaty alternative. And may I offer in accompaniment some award-winning vegan cheese from Honestly Tasty.
A VISUAL FEAST
The final essential ingredient to any successful Burns' Supper is a heraldic display of tartan, flags, thistles and heather. Together, these combine in making the occasion both distinctive, memorable and unmistakably Scottish.
So there you have it, the perfect recipe for an unforgettable Burns' Night.
And all the ingredients for an intriguing, culinary experience.
For those of you lucky enough to take part I wish you all a wonderful Burns’ Night.
Gie her (Scotland) a Haggis!
Listen to the exclusive BAGGI Burns' Night playlist here to get your party started right!
By Mark Baxter