Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rabbie Burns, Ye Sly Auld Bas

Nathan and I lived in Scotland for a year right after college. There we learned many things: how to decipher Scots language, use words like "wee," "dram," and "rubbish" without feeling like "fannies," and all about the Robert Burns Supper. We've been meaning to throw one here since we returned, but the 25th sneaks up so quickly after Christmas that it has always been forgotten until too late.

This year, however, I thought of it the first week of January, just in time to order some oatcakes, find the lone store in all of Chicago that sells haggis imported from Scotland, and have Nathan's mom send his kilt. Oh yes, you read that correctly, his kilt.

Robert Burns Night is celebrated on or around January 25th, which is Robert Burns' birthday. He is a much-beloved Scottish poet, long dead. He wrote hundreds of poems, most famously "Auld Lang Syne." He also wrote an "Ode to a Haggis." His celebratory evening is quite the event, and we "did it up."

We had 12 people to a six course meal. People arrived in plaid and even one homemade kilt. We began with a welcome speech, toasted the memory of auld Rabbie, and piped in the haggis. Nathan did a lovely rendering of the poem above. We plan to work on our intonations for next year so we'll sound more authentic (like this guy) for next year.

We planned the menu to include all the Scottish dishes you would normally find a Robert Burns Night. We started with traditional Cock-a-Leekie soup (chicken and leeks and, strangely, prunes). Next, on to the salad course, complete with Drambuie Vinaigrette.

One of our guests recited a poem he had written in Scots (starts at 3:30). Next we had a cheese course served with oatcakes, then on to the haggis, roasted neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), green beans, and roasted chicken.

Another guest and his wife gave the Toast to the Lassies and the Toast to the Laddies (starts at 4:22), which were that perfect balance of funny and touching. Finally, we finished with Chocolate Scotch Cake and Edinburgh Fog (basically whipped cream with Drambuie).

It was a "stoatin nicht" in Burns honor. Many, many toasts (and quite a few toasted guests as a result), lots of laughs, and a great meal. Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. Awww, man! I can't believe I forgot Bobbie Burns' day. :) But I love what you guys did! Sounds like an awesome evening.