The great Scottish poet, Robert Burns, was born January 25, 1759. In celebration of his birthday, Burns Suppers range from formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to very informal dinners throughout Scotland and in the homes of Scottish descendants worldwide. Most Burns Suppers adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honored form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.
Almost anyone can enjoy a Burns Night celebration. All that’s needed is a place to gather, plenty of haggis and neeps to go around, a master of ceremonies, friendly celebrants, and good Scotch drink to keep you warm.
I’ll leave it to you to find the place to gather, the master of ceremonies, the friendly celebrants, and good Scotch drink. However, for the haggis, you may have to look a bit harder (unless you meet in Scotland). If you leave out the legally inedible parts, haggis is edible in the United States.
Americans can order non-traditional haggis online.
Some years ago, I took my first trip to Scotland and, of course, I had to try the haggis. However, being a vegan in those days presented a bit of a challenge. After all, traditional haggis has MEAT in it!
I soon discovered that many Scottish restaurants serve vegetarian haggis. That seemed strange to me but I tried it found it tasted rather good. In fact, I ate vegetarian haggis several times during my twelve-day stay. The flavor varied a bit from one restaurant to the next but was always good.
In conversations with some of the locals, I found several who said they had eaten haggis quite often when they were growing up but now, as adults, they prefer the vegetarian haggis. MacSweens, (http://www.haggisuk.co.uk/) a company in Edinburg, Scotland, manufactures 1,000 tons of haggis every year. The company reports that one in four orders for haggis it sells is vegetarian.
Traditional haggis (with meat) has some ingredients that are not legal to sell in the U.S. However, vegetarian haggis is completely legal and haggis made in the U.S. will have other cuts of meat substituted to insure legality.
To learn more about Burns Dinners, go to http://www.robertburns.org/suppers/. You can find a recipe to make your own Vegetarian Haggis at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegetarian-haggis/ and the list of ingredients does sound much more appealing than that of the original haggis. Who wants to eat sheep’s lung anyway?
If you live in the UK, you can have traditional or vegetarian haggis delivered to your door by ordering online at https://www.haggisuk.co.uk/haggis. It is frozen so I don’t think they will ship overseas.
If you live in the US, you can have traditional or vegetarian haggis delivered to your door by ordering online at https://www.scottishgourmetusa.com/. The company even sells vegetarian haggis although the web site states that it is “out of stock” right now. You can find still other Scottish items for sale in the US at the same web site: http://www.scottishgourmetusa.com.
Sounds delicious! Please pass the neeps and tatties.
Footnote: Neeps and tatties are traditionally served with haggis. Neeps are the traditional Scottish word for turnips. For a hilarious description of neeps as spoken in Scotland, look at http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neep.
A tattie is a word used in Scotland for potato, as explained at http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattie.