Happy Birthday to Rabbie Burns!
Today I have realised what a nightmare it must be to be an Australian of Scots heritage. I cannot imagine the hangover caused by a proper Burns supper (Jan 25th) followed by an Australia Day BBQ (Jan 26th). Thank god this year there is Sunday to recover. I do not have Scots heritage in the recent family history (although my mother has married a Douglas, so I can buy into it that way) but I thought it would be a good opportunity to have a go at haggis.
The local had a Burns supper last night, but I was out with a non-haggis eating friend, so I decided that I'd have to sacrifice the ritual and ceremony and just eat the damn haggis. I took advice and everyone said that Macsween of Edinburgh is the only way to go. In fact, a colleague who is running a Burns supper for the residents of a sheltered housing scheme is fearing a riot because she didn't know to get a Macsween haggis. I was told that Waitrose always has Macsween haggis, so a quick trip in got me sorted. I looked at the vegetarian haggis and decided that if I was going to do it, I'd do it right.
Wrapped in foil and simmered in water for 45 minutes, with carrot and parsnip mash and buttered greens on the side it was absolutely delicious! It's a Friday night and I am tired, so I wasn't interested in buying and preparing neeps and tatties from scratch, so I went with a couple of microwaveable veg dishes. The haggis wasn't nearly as dry as I had been led to believe it might be. It was quite succulent, with a nice even texture and good seasoning.
Apparently pepper, coriander, mace and nutmeg go into it, which I find interesting. Clearly, a small amount of offal with onions and oatmeal has to be la cucina povera, so to speak. When you haven't got much of anything you mix it together and call it a delicacy. But the large amount of spice in it lifts it away from being peasant food. Where an 18th century Highlander would have obtained mace and coriander is baffling to me. However it came about, it is delicious, and I would like to raise a toast to the immortal memory of Robert Burns - and to haggis, which deserves eating more than once a year.