The real purpose of Burns Night for Scots overseas is the opportunity to eat haggis, the infamous dish traditionally encased in the stomach of a sheep. In the olden days, haggis was a poor mans' dish. The innards, typically lungs, of the animals were bulked out by oatmeal and heavy spiced to disguise the grim flavours of the off cuts and innards of the animals. Nowadays, especially in Scotland, where there were limitations on using some parts of the animal due to mad cow disease, we are much more choosy of what we stuff into our haggis and it wouldn't be any different to what you would find in a sausage. The casing too, is now similar to a sausage casing rather than being the stomach of the sheep. The spices and shape though still remain, to take us back to our roots.
Talking of roots, haggis is traditionally served with specific root vegetables, neeps and tatties - translated that is mashed turnips (or swede actually) and mashed potatoes. Typically, as whisky lovers, it's also served with a whisky sauce or just a splash of whisky poured over the meat to add some moisture and flavour.
One of the most important traditions of a Burns Supper is having the haggis piped into the room by a kilted bagpiper and the address to the haggis, originally written by Robert Burns, being recited. At our Burns Supper we were true to tradition. The sounds of the bagpipes resonating around Glebe would have been heard all up and down Glebe Point Road, probably confusing the locals dining in other restaurants! We were too busy enjoying the dramatic spearing of the haggis during the reciting of the Ode to a Haggis, and the shots of whisky to toast it (any excuse!).
"Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware;
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis"
(extract from Robert Burns, Ode to a Haggis)