A Burns supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, author of many Scots poems. The suppers are normally held on or near the poet’s birthday 25 January, sometimes also known as Robert Burns Day or Burns Night, although they may in principle be held at any time of the year. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. Most Burns Suppers includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky.
The centrepiece of any good Burns’ Supper menu is the iconic haggis.
Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.
Traditional accompaniments to the haggis are neeps and tatties or as they are more commonly known – turnip and potatoes. These are normally served mashed.The haggis is already cooked and just needs some careful re-heating until it is piping hot.
A typical Burns Night menu includes first and foremost, haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). Other dishes may include Cock-a-Leekie soup – a bowl of Scottish history with this traditional soup made with leeks, rich chicken broth and a splash of Whiskey, Tipsy Laird (sherry trifle), oatcakes, roast beef and Cullen Skink (smoked haddock soup). These dishes are always washed down with good Scottish whiskeys, malts wines and ales.
What to drink
Whisky is the usual choice at Burns’ Suppers, either malts or blends. If you don’t like whisky, then robust red wines make a good accompaniment. Ales, lager, punch, Scottish fruit wines or soft drinks are all alternatives.