Sunday, January 23, 2011

Burns Week: Day 5

We're getting close to Burns Night now and that means grocery shopping. The classic menu is pretty basic:

Cock-a-Leekie soup (fowl with lots of leeks mixed with veggies and broth as an appetizer)
Haggis (sheep organs with spices and oatmeal cooked in a casing as a main dish)
Mashed Neeps and Tatties (mashed rutabaga and mashed potatoes)
Typsie Laird (fruit trifle with sherry or scotch...hence the tipsy part)
Cheese and fruit (whatever you like)
Scotch (whisky...not whiskey)

As you may or may not know, I'm a vegetarian. So the menu has had to be adjusted a bit. Plus the dessert seems to be variable, so we're skipping the trifle and doing one of my favorite desserts instead. But more about our menu on the day! Here are some pictures of our shopping adventure from earlier today during which we got many things we've never bought before including prunes, dates, rutabaga, eggplant, and a two foot length of hog intestines to use for casing.

This is my husband admiring beans. It's very like him to admire beans.

This is eggplant, which you probably knew, but which I've only ever eaten unknowingly. It'll end up in the vegetarian haggis.

Those big mushrooms on the right (which taste and smell and look like dirt if you ask me) will end up in the second vegetarian haggis, the more savory one. Actually all of our haggis will be vegetarian, but Jonathan's veggie haggis will at least be cooked in the hog casing.

Those big roots on the left are rutabaga for the mashed neeps.

Ginger for the haggis.

Prunes for the leek soup and dates for the dessert.

Hungry yet? You could always ask the nice folks at the rare books library if you could borrow Burns' old porridge bowl and spoon, but I doubt they'll let you. It's on display along with a bronzed plaster statue and some very handsome portraits and other interesting things, so if you're ever in Columbia, South Carolina and have a minute, stop by. I especially like the initials and year carved into the side of the porridge bowl.

More tomorrow about what to expect out of a Burns Night celebration. For now, a verse about a rodent (but really about so much more). To experience this one in a particularly special way, read along here (so you can see the Standard English translation alongside the original for those bits of dialect that aren't made obvious by the context) while you listen as Liz Lochhead, Scotland's recently appointed national poet, recites the piece at the Guardian Books podcast here. (She starts her recitation about 23 minutes in, but the preceding information in the podcast is really interesting if you wanna learn more about Burns.) To a Mouse is one of Burns' most famous and well loved works, its popularity having as much to do with bards as with beasties . . . enjoy!