Burns Night

By Stuart Gates
Published 20th January 2021

One of my enduring memories of Burns Night is a huge haggis wrapped in tartan being led by a piper through Harrods ground floor past the fragrant cosmetic counters then onwards towards the Food Halls all the while with rather astonished American tourists staring on and then being even more stunned listening to the “Address to a Haggis “, passionately recited by a robust ruddy-faced Scot! The drama was intoxicating.

A haggis was always ‘kindly’ sent by a relative living in Scotland…

I am of mixed parentage (Scottish mother) and was force-fed haggis on Burns Night from a young age. A haggis was always ‘kindly’ sent by a relative living in Scotland which, to me at that time, was not that enjoyable and the neeps, or swede, served alongside were even more very scary!

Moving on a lot of years and haggis & neeps is one of those traditional meals that I find fabulous! It suits January, especially in Scotland, and often I ‘happened’ to be there for buying trips on Burns Night and was lucky to enjoy it at source so to speak. I would advise a haggis must be very well seasoned with LOTS of white pepper, sea salt and accompanied by a dram of something Scottish to drink.

I have enjoyed working with Grants Haggis of Speyside who went on to win Great Taste awards for their products as they expanded from traditional butchery and retail into food service and mail order. They have even served their Haggis Toasties here in London at various events (Haggis Toasties, now tell me that doesn’t conjure delicious thoughts on a cold January day).

If, as we’re now again in lockdown, you can’t visit your local independent butcher perhaps some enterprising pub or restaurant could deliver you a Burns Night supper, however, you can definitely order haggis in advance online. Unfortunately, you’ll have to provide your own pipe music and ode to haggis. Don’t forget the tatties & neeps though!

Oidhche Bhlas Burns! 

Illustration: Ailbhe Phelan

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