Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Alternative Burns' Night

Last-minute planning of traditional Burns' Night fare was not a good idea today. Not on a Burns' Night when Scotland's First Minister made another carefully timed speech tugging at the independence heartstrings of the nation. Certainly the Scottish National Party is leaving no national symbol unexploited as it seeks independence for Scotland. Above, the 'haggis chill cabinet' in our local Tesco on Saturday. The tartan swathing is new to Tesco's display this year. As the independence debate ramps up, so does the tartan. By 2014, the proposed date for a referendum on independence, we will be drowning in it.

By 5.30 tonight the haggis had sold out. Even that mostly unloved stalwart of Scottish cuisine, the neep, had disappeared.

So we celebrated with home-made mushroom risotto with roasted butternut squash. Shhhh...


  1. That sounds like a much better meal to me! What is a neap? A turnip?

  2. Happy Robbie Burns Day to you!!

  3. I still remember "O my Luve's like a red, red rose" from the college days... A happy Burns Night to you and your family.

  4. We celebrated with Moussaka..!

  5. That just Burns me up! Hee-hee. Sorry, sorry.
    (And no neeps from the garden?) Sounds like you had a lovely meal. Hope you had a wee dram of Scotch. About 25 years ago, I had memorized "To a Mouse".

  6. Neeps! Haggis! Too many exclamation points, American style! I love the blogging world; you celebrate Burns' Night and I go to a powwow. It's a wonderful world.

  7. I follow the Scottish independence movement from afar here. Although I don't have any strong personal feeling about it, nor will it have much impact on me as I haven't lived in the U.K. since the 1960s, but nevertheless I think independence would be bad both for Scotland and for Britain as a whole. I know that if it does become an independent country, and leaves the EU as some of politicians would like, it can only hurt tourism as it becomes harder to visit.

  8. great blog, Linda. you made me smile. i particularly liked the phrase "As the independence debate ramps up, so does the tartan". Happy Burns Day to you, risotto and all. :)

  9. I'm a little late, but hope you had an enjoyable Burns' Night!

  10. We actually had a Burns Night tonight at a local bar. Too bad I found out about it after I had already changed into my pajamas.

  11. Pray tell...what is Burns Night???

  12. LOLOL..Linda, I have just sent a letter to the SNP, telling them of your 'southerly' tendencies. Mushroom risotto and roasted squash indeed!! Hope you at least had some good whisky?

  13. Our local Tesco in Central Scotland always swathed the tartan around every Burns day. Hope you enjoyed your alternative supper. Looking forward to Independance day too!

  14. I love your photos of the empty supermarket haggis and neeps shelves. Yes, there has been a lot of angling and posturing lately. I wonder what Burns would have made of the Prime Minister calling the Scottish National Party "Wee sleekit timrous mousie"[s] in Parliament?

  15. The top of a fridge seems like the least useful place to drape any type of blanket, even one with national significance!

    Until this year I always went to my friend Adam's house for Burns Night, but since I don't eat meat and I gave up booze it was always a strange affair.

    Still, I think the Scots can be proud to come from a nation that so honors a poet.

  16. My husband's bagpipes are dried out and need repair... we didn't get to go to our highland games last year, where we always buy our haggis (frozen)... we're out of whiskey...


  17. Burns Night celebratory meal here at our village pub tickets sold out before we got ours! Next year perhaps!?

  18. I think your Burns night dinner sounds much tastier than haggis!

  19. RedPat, a neep is indeed a turnip. I quite like neeps - mashed with butter and a little pepper they're nicer than the haggis to my mind.

    Shirley, thank you. It's always good to have a festival in the gloomy days of January.

    Suman, I'm impressed both that you learned the poem in the first place, and that you remember it.

    Annie, Phew, I'm glad that someone else bucked the trend.

    Michelle, I'm not too keen on the meat version of haggis, but the vegetarian version is delicious. I don't know how widely it's available outside Scotland.

    Such wit, Tash. Sadly, no neeps from the garden. The big yellow ones are so widely grown that it's hardly worth the bother to grow them in the garden.

    Clair, I loved your very American comment (!!). And I was fascinated by your pow wow.

    Well Al, you've flushed me out. This is the point at which I admit that I don't support independence for Scotland. It's not clear if an independent Scotland would leave the EU. According to the nationalist politicians we're as good as in - without having had to apply for membership.

    Journeys to Scotland, hope you had a good Burns' Night. I liked your MacSween post - that's the brand we usually buy.

    Hello Lindy - it was very low key at home, unlike our son away at university who was at a proper Burns' Supper and then a Celtic Connections gig. I was going to say 'concert', but that would be showing my age.

    Oakland Daily Photo, all you need is a pair of tartan pyjamas.

    What is Burns' Night, The Chieftess? Haggis, whisky, dagger plunged into haggis, much poetry declaimed, bagpipes piped, did I say whisky? But see

    You've shopped me Gary! No whisky for us yesterday. But for our son's recent 21st we gave him a bottle of 21 year old malt from a distillery near where I come from on Speyside.

    Jacqui, Tesco is very dutiful with the tartan. Ours also had a copy of the address to the haggis stuck to the side of the haggis cabinet. We're going to have to agree to differ on the independence issue!

    Christine, I'm at the point when I have to switch the news off when the angling and posturing comes on.

    69point23degrees, a 'proper' Burns' Night can be disconcerting without at least some whisky inside you.

    Marcheline, there's nothing for it, you're just going to have to come to Scotland.

    The cuby poet, do you have lots of exiles in your area, or is it the prospect of whisky and a bit of dagger-plunging that attracts people?

    Karine - I recommend the vegetarian variety. Very tasty.

  20. Interesting!!! Sounds like a good reason to celebrate!!! Is it blasphemous to tip a good Irish Whiskey in honor of Robert Burns on Burns Night???

  21. I had no idea that you celebrated Robert Burns with a Burns' Night. I also think he is a great poet and worthy of such a celebration.

    I never had any idea about what was going on in Scotland politics until a couple of days ago when I read about the independence debates going on in Scotland. I'm not at all sure what Scotland would gain by becoming independent. Just from my view, it doesn't seems favorable, but who am I to say? It seems like Scotland has its own government like Canada and Australia and I cannot imagine either one of those countries wanting independence. I certainly think it would be interesting to look into it further so will have to research it. Funny that you should mention it in your blog when just a few days days ago, I read about it for the first time.

    In all the magazines and cook books that I have read recently I see all kinds of recipes for butternut squash risotto. Putting mushroom in it sounds great, so will have to try it out as I have never made it.

    Thanks for this very interesting and informative blog.

  22. Is it 50 p a kilo or a piece? It seems expensive compared to France where I would expect to pay around 1.75 to 2 euros per kilo.

    And regarding your comment about the job advert in Avignon - I'd never thought of first tearing one of the slips yourself to make the offer appear more popular. It makes sense from a marketing point of view but I'd never thought of that. Thanks !

  23. Ahh Linda!!! Thanks for the go ahead to imbibe in a bit o' the Irish to celebrate Burns night!!!

  24. this was a very informative posting to me, learned a lot of new things !

  25. We still have squash in the basement from last summer. We should try to do a soup with it. I have never had it that way.

  26. It is the thought that counts! Happy Robert Burns Day (Late) to you!

  27. Well, I never thought I'd see the day that empty Co-op shelves would feature on a blog. Ever the innovator, Linda! Our haggis and neeps was fine, but I have to say that your risotto sounds delicious. 'Some hae neeps but canna eat, and some would neep but want it...' or something...

  28. The Chieftess, I hope you've enjoyed your whiskey, no matter where it came from.

    Anni, there's a lot more I could have written. Burns is a big subject!

    Larry, you're lucky still to have squash lasting from the summer. A nice warming soup would be just the thing just now.

    Dragonfly Dreams, I'm sure Burns wouldn't have minded late good wishes. He probably wasn't on time much himself.

    Dancing Beastie, you're right - the ground-breaking nature of blogging never ceases to amaze me. Love your version of the Selkirk Grace. Rooted in real life experience...



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