Food has inspired many a great creative type. From still lifes to songs, food never seems to be too far away from an artist's mind.
One of the best known food-related poems is by Scottish national poet Robert Burns. His “Address to a Haggis” became so popular that there’s a whole night inspired by its verses.
Burns Night (or Burns Supper) is held either on or during the week of January 25, the anniversary of Burns’ birth. The Scots take this celebration seriously, and there are rituals and ceremonies to adhere to.
If you don’t have any bagpipes lying around, or you’re a wee bit concerned about whipping up a full Scottish spread, you can stick to the simple supper that’s eaten on Burns Night.
The three essentials are haggis, tatties and neeps. (Tatties are taters, as in mashed potatoes, and neeps are turnips.)
Haggis is the most complicated of the three. You can make your own or find a specialty store that carries it. Haggis is a mixture of sheep offal, fat, oatmeal, onion and spices that is stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach and cooked for three hours until tender. The origin of haggis is a little cloudy, but it’s likely that herders developed this technique to make food both portable and easy to cook.
If you want to have the full Scottish version of a Burns supper, there are many online guides to help. The haggis, neeps and tatties are brought in on a silver tray to the sound of bagpipes before being ceremoniously cut. This might have been Burns’ favorite part, if the third verse of his poem is any indication:
The full meal is bit more complicated and includes cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leek soup) and a Scottish sherry trifle. At the end, everyone sings "Auld Lang Syne," which Robert Burns also wrote. See what good food can inspire you to do?
Pore over all our spirited coverage of Scotch whisky (and its close cousin bourbon, if that's all you've got on hand; Robbie would surely not mind):
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