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 restaurants and 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.
NOTE: American and Irish liquor producers usually spell it as WHISKEY, while Canadian, Scottish, and Japanese producers usually spell it WHISKY.
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, I will refer you to an article I wrote about two and a half years ago at http://goo.gl/ECXCu0. In If You Leave Out the Legally Inedible Parts, Haggis is Edible, I described traditional haggis and a place where Americans can order non-traditional haggis online.
A few weeks after that article was published, I took my first trip to Scotland and, of course, I had to try the haggis. However, I am a vegan so that 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 and 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 often when they were growing up; but now, as adults, they prefer the vegetarian haggis. MacSweens, (http://www.haggisuk.co.uk) a company in Edinburgh, Scotland, manufactures 1,000 tons of haggis every year. The company reports that one in four orders for haggis it sells is vegetarian, indicting the one company alone produces about 250 tons of vegetarian haggis per year.
I guess I am not alone.
You can read my earlier article about haggis and where Americans can buy it online at http://goo.gl/ECXCu0. 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?
You can have vegetarian haggis delivered to your door by ordering online at https://www.haggisuk.co.uk/haggis/vegetarian-haggis. I notice that web page says the company will deliver to the UK, the European Union, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
If you live in the US, you also can have traditional or vegetarian haggis delivered to your door by ordering online at http://goo.gl/0AoXJ2 for traditional, meat-filled haggis (although it only uses meats approved by the US government) or at http://goo.gl/vkXJcD for vegetarian haggis. You can find still other Scottish items for sale in the US at: http://www.scottishgourmetusa.com.
Sounds delicious! Please pass the neeps and tatties.
Footnote: Neeps and tatties are traditionally served with haggis. Neeps is the traditional Scottish word for swedes, a vegetable that is closely related to the turnip. 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.