Burns Night a Long Way South:
Now, I only lived in Scotland for a very few years of my life, when my Father was working in Ayr. But, his side of the family are Scottish through and through, my grandfather was a doctor working in Glasgow and HIS father was the first postmaster on Skye. So, there’s a part of me that yearns for the Scottish Highlands and Islands and I love ceilidhs and Scottish traditions like Burns Night, when everyone dresses up and strange incomprehensible poetry is read, alongside the consumption of strange food and strong whisky.
The format of Burns suppers has changed little since the first supper was held in 1802 to commemorate the Death of Scotland’s favourite poet, Robert Burns.
The basic format starts with a general welcome and announcements, followed with Selkirk Grace After the grace comes the piping and cutting of the haggis when Burns’s famous “Address to the Haggis” is read and the haggis is cut open. Now, this is what you’ll hear.
Worth getting a translation first perhaps? The event usually allows for people to start eating just after the haggis is presented. The Ceilidh format gets everyone up and dancing at this point, but there are plenty of dinners where you simply eat a lot of good food (haggis is sometimes served as a starter, with a traditional Scottish meat like venison for the main course). It all finishes with everyone singing of “Auld Lang Syne”, by which time you should be full of food and whisky!
I’ve had a bit of fun and held my own Burns night suppers, albeit without a piper – and I’ve also been to Burns Night ceilidhs. I have a sneaking suspicion that when you get men to dress up in kilts they become somehow nicer. That could be just nerves that you can actually see their legs…or perhaps a draught blowing up the kilt keeping them chilled?
So, I’d recommend a Burns Night event, for fun, entertainment, tradition and excellent food. If you’d like a bit of Scottish splendour then why not book a table at the 1 Lombard Street Dinner . You’ll get whisky tasting, haggis, men in kilts (there’s a bribe of free whisky for those that do!) and a rather splendid atmosphere, all for £40 a head. Or visit Boisdale, that most Scottish of London restaurants;) Not content with celebrating Burns Night on the 25th, they’ve got a whole week of (as they put it) haggis stabbing! For more information, check out their website.
Or, if it’s just too cold to go out, well could just put together your own Burns Night celebration, drink a wee dram and address the haggis at home. You’ll need a haggis, tatties (potatoes) and neeps (swede). And, a lot of whisky. Serve cockaleekie soup to start and cranachan for dessert. And find the person with the best Scottish accent to Address the Haggis!
If like me, you prefer your whisky in a cocktail, here an idea from Claridges from Oliver Blackburn for a Whisky cocktail with Chivas 12
and one from the Ritz and Walter Pintus
So, now you have everything to ensure you have the classiest Burns Night dinner in Town, whether you stay at home or go out to celebrate.