Burns Night is about three weeks away, on January 25, but if you don't live in Scotland where you can find a haggis to "slaughter" for the feast, you might want to start looking for a local or online source now. Some tinned haggis is available online and if you live in the USA you'll have to be happy with that, as imports of fresh meat products are restricted. Bake it in a loaf pan and pretend.
Up in Scotland, when the birthday of Robbie Burns, the country's national poet, is celebrated, Burns' poem, "Address to a Haggis" is dramatically orated over the haggis, before the Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! is stabbed with a special dirk reserved for the occasion. Most people believe that Burns' famous poem, written in 1786, is in praise of the haggis. But one school of thought believes the praise is ironic. In the days when haggis was not an everyday food, it was a luxury item reserved for the rich and for special celebrations. According to the BBC, some think the poem is a subtle criticism of those who ate this very Scottish dish of oatmeal and innards stuffed into a sheep's stomach. Vegetarian's needn't hide their eyes and hold their noses. Vegetarian versions of haggis are available in Scottish shops and online.
In any event, at traditional Burns' Night Suppers on the night, the poem is declaimed with great drama (have a listen) and the haggis is stabbed with a sharp knife, then toasted with many drams of Scotch whisky, before being eaten with neeps and tatties - mashed turnips and potatoes.
And, by the way - if you think you're not a fan of poetry, have never heard any of Robert Burns poetry and certainly have never memorized any, just think back a few days ago to New Year's Eve. If you sang so much as a chorus of Auld Lang Syne, you were singing Burns' words.
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