21 January 2017

Prepare your Burns supper menu

A feast of haggis, neaps, and tatties lies at the heart of all Burns Night celebrations. If cooking a haggis leaves you feeling slightly ‘feart’, then Scotland’s own chef Nick Nairn is on hand to assist with his book New Scottish Cookery. Championing Scottish ingredients, this collection of over 80 recipes will ease you into cooking classics with a contemporary twist. There’s even a handy guide detailing where to source the best Scottish ingredients. Haggis may be the tradition, but it doesn’t have to be traditional.

Pipe in the guests (and the Haggis)

Once your food is prepped and served, it’s time to welcome your guests. Sourcing a piper might be a logistical nightmare - not to mention ever so slightly irritating to your neighbours - so substitute those pipes for some traditional Scottish music instead. Select some choice numbers from Scotland’s Music by John Purser, packed with over 200 examples of Scottish music. It gives detailed insight into traditional music through the centuries, and explores how it illuminates Scottish history and culture.

Celebrate Burns' work

Born on the 25th of January in 1759, Rabbie (as he’s known to fellow Scots) was a farmer’s son from Ayrshire who went on to become one of Scotland’s most renowned poets - a man capable of evoking a powerful emotional response using fine-tuned melodious rhyme. His prolific body of work is brought together in this collection chosen by Scottish author Ian Rankin, which showcases his artistic talent and linguistic prowess.

Make a few toasts  

Before the speeches kick off, it’s time for a toast. Raise a glass to Rabbie, your guests, and your meal with a dram of whiskey (or two). Scots on Scotch explores the history behind the internationally recognised drink, which has attracted renewed attention in recent years and is now a rich commodity and treasured export. Written by multiple contributors who are passionate about Whiskey, it will help you tell your single malt from your blends, helping you and your guests to wash your haggis down in style.

Prepare some Burns-inspired speeches...

Burns Night means speeches, and lots of them. But don’t let that be a deterrent - these are no drab recitals. They should be lively, with some classic Scots' banter thrown in for good measure. Prepare a speech to address the haggis, and then a thankful greeting to all of the Lassies in attendance. For inspiration, look no further than the life of the man himself; Robert Crawford's biography The Bard features everything from rediscovered poetry to interviews and stories from Burns’ contemporaries, and beautifully captures the brilliance of Scotland’s national poet. It’s also full of traditional dialect, making it a great starting point for anyone new to Burns' work.

...And invite some replies

Burns Night is a model of equality; where the men get to speak, so do the women - it is 2017, after all. 'The Reply to the Laddies’ - an amusing reply to the gentlemen in attendance - is delivered by a female guest and is often witty and tinged with sarcasm. Why not use How it Works: The Husband, to help form this humourous speech. This nostalgic book is full of tongue-in-cheek observations about  the struggle of being a man. Laced with quirky illustrations that fondly play homage to the original Ladybird hardbacks, it is certain to provide some good-natured laughs on the night.

Make way for dancing

Now it’s time to burn off that supper, and the grand finale (for those left standing) is often a good ol’ ceilidh. If you didn’t learn the Gay Gordons as a bairn, it may look perplexing, chaotic and even downright terrifying. But fear not, for there is method in this Scotch madness. Save yourself from the embarrassment of an out-of-time two-step with Scottish Ceilidh Dancing, which will guide you through the intricate routines of the Dashing White Sergeant and Strip the Willow with ease. Just don’t forget your dancing shoes.

Related articles