Are you suffering from the January blues? Then you’ll be glad to know that Thursday 25th of January is Burns night. With good food, warming whisky and Scotland’s finest poetry on the menu, it’s the perfect occasion to cheer up those long winter nights.
Fancy joining in with the celebrations? Here the essential ingredients for a successful Burns night supper.
Burns night is all about enjoying wholesome, hearty food that will warm you up. Most suppers kick off with cock-a leekie soup, a peppery chicken and leek soup thickened with rice or pearl barley. Alternatively, how about serving up steaming bowls of cullen skink, a buttery broth packed with smoked haddock, potatoes, onion and sweetcorn?
Next on the menu is the haggis. Traditionally piped in to the sound of bagpipes, your butcher or supermarket should have plenty of these in stock. Vegetarian versions are equally tasty and there are some great recipes available if you fancy making your own. Whether you opt for a veggie or traditional haggis, don’t forget to serve it with neeps (swede) and tatties (mashed potatoes) for an authentic Scottish experience!
A traditional Burns night meal ends with cranachan. This is a layered dessert which combines soft cheese, berries, toasted oats and lashings of whipped cream laced with whisky. Delicious!
Enjoying a wee dram of whisky is an essential part of any Burns night supper and the traditional running order includes plenty of opportunities to do this. Single malt whisky is generally served, but don’t worry if this isn’t to your taste, as Scotland produces over 2000 varieties of whisky! You could even offer your guests whisky cocktails.
When it comes to drinking your whisky, serve it neat or mixed with a little water, then take a moment to enjoy its aroma. Next, take a sip and swirl the whisky around your mouth to experience its intense flavour and warmth.
Burns night suppers normally begin with The Selkirk Grace, a traditional prayer adapted by Burns. Following this the haggis is piped in, so if you don’t know anyone who plays the bagpipes, why not download a couple of tracks to give your celebration a Scottish feel?
The Address to a Haggis comes next; a speech which ends with cutting open the haggis, raising a toast to it and tucking in!
After dinner, it’s traditional to recite some of Burns’ most loved poems, including gems like A Red, Red Rose Tam O’ Shanter and Ae Fond Kiss. As the poems are written in 18th century Scots dialect, you’ll probably want to give the reader plenty of time to practise their pronunciation!
Other traditional Burns night performances include The Immortal Memory, which involves a speaker sharing their thoughts about Scotland’s beloved poet and the Toast to the Lassies, which gently ridicules the shortcomings of women. Given by a male guest, this speech should draw on Burns’s own dalliances with the fairer sex and end on a positive note, praising the women of today.
It’s traditional for a female guest to respond to the Toast to the Lassies by giving a speech about the weaknesses of men, including quotes about Robert Burns. Again, this should end on a positive note if you want to avoid any awkward silences!
Whichever speeches you decide to include, no Burns night supper is complete without a stirring rendition of Robert Burns’ most famous poem; Auld Lang Syne.
If you don’t fancy cooking your own haggis neeps and tatties, why not enjoy a Burns night meal at one of Sutton Coldfield’s excellent eateries?
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