What is the best way to eat Haggis? Tonight is the night to find out!
Burns Night marks the anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth on the 25th of January each year.
The first Burns supper was held in July 1801 when nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death. Taking place at Burns Cottage in Alloway, the night included a tasty meal of haggis, performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the great Bard (now known as the Immortal Memory). The night was such a resounding success they decided to hold it again (this time in honour of Rabbie’s birthday), beginning the tradition we still enjoy to this day.
Across Scotland and indeed the world today, families and friends will be gathering to say the Selkirk Grace, reciting ‘Address to a Haggis’, before enjoying a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties together with a few drams of whisky, and perhaps also a giving final recital of ‘Toast to the Lassies’.
But just how are you supposed to eat Haggis? Well for starters you will have to catch one. Or so nearly a quarter of Americans believe according to a recent survey! Sadly, there are no short, squat, hairy beasties scurrying around the Highlands called Haggises. Haggis is a simple dish using the pluck of an animal; lungs, heart, liver, to which is added suet or fat, oatmeal, onions and a little stock and seasoning, filled into some sort of casing or skin.The meat is cooked, then minced with the onions and mixed with the suet, oatmeal, some of the stock and the seasoning.
The mixture, whilst hot, is then filled into a casing, which for a traditional haggis would be natural skins (ox intestine). It is formed to the right size, and then finally cooked again to allow the oatmeal to swell.
Whilst in theory you could eat haggis cold, it is best eaten warm. The haggis can be either boiled or baked and is ready in just over an hour.
Sadly no-one had explained these basic facts to Russian Instagram star and TV presenter Anastasia Ivleyeva, who visited Edinburgh during the Fringe as part of the hugely successful Ukrainian TV travel show ‘Oryol i Reshka’, which focused on the Scottish capital for one of their shows. Plucky Anastasia bought the haggis from Tesco Express on South Bridge, and not knowing much about the Scottish national dish, thought all that was needed was a fork to the stone cold haggis she had taken from the store’s fridge. We are happy to report she liked the haggis nethertheless! English subtitles available on the clip below for non Russian speakers.
“Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!”
Wishing you all, in Scotland and afar, a wonderful Burns Supper!