Sunday, January 25, 2009

Robert Burns Birthday

Robert Burns was born, 250 years ago today, on January 25th, 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the eldest of seven children of William Burnes and Agnes Broun

Across the world Burns is regarded as the national poet of Scotland. In his short lifetime he wrote more than 500 poems and songs. His writings were romantic, political, bawdy, satirical and so much more. He wrote in the Scots language, and also in English and Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland.

There was a lad was born in Kyle
But whatna day o' whatna style
I doubt it's hardly worth the while
To be sae nice tae Robin

Robin was a rovin' boy
Rantin', rovin', rantin', rovin'
Robin was a rovin' boy
Rantin', rovin' Robin

Our monarch's hindmost year but ane
Was five-and-twenty days begun,
'Twas then a blast o' Janwar' win'
Blew hansel in on Robin.

On this day let us raise a toast to "The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns".


Friday, January 16, 2009

Burns Supper: Songs and Poems

Robert Burns wrote over 500 songs and poems during his short lifetime. No Burns Supper is complete without singing the songs and reciting the poetry of Burns.

The supper is usually preceded by Burns' Address to a Haggis. This noted production was composed with little forethought within a fortnight after the poet's arrival in Edinburgh, and was printed in the pages of the Caledonian Mercury, December 20th, 1786. You can find the full text, as well as a translation Here

At a Burns Supper you might also hear My Love is Like a Red Red Rose, There was a Lad, Coming Through the Rye, Ye Banks and Braes, and perhaps even a recitation of the great narrative poem Tam 'o Shanter.

The traditional end to any Burns Supper is the singing of classicly Scottish song Auld Lang Syne. Burns claimed to have written only two stanzas of this song (verses 2 and 3), while the others verses were from an old song. Nevertheless it's sentiment is timeless.

Songs of Robert Burns CD, sung by Carl Peterson.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Burns Supper: Neeps and Tatties

Haggis is traditionally served with "Neeps and Tatties", but at a Burns Supper, since the Haggis may be served separately, the Neeps & Tatties will be served with the main dinner.

Tatties are mashed potatoes. Neeps are traditionally mashed rutabaga (called swedes in Scotland), but if necessary turnips can also be used. The Neeps and Tatties are mashed and served separately.

If you mix the Neeps and Tatties together and add some onion you have a dish called Clapshot, which is said to have originated in Orkney.

The name rutabaga comes from the Swedish "rotabagge". Some claim the vegetable is native to Sweden, but others think it was introduced to Sweden, possibly from Finland or Siberia, in the early 17th century. From Sweden, it reached Scotland (where it is called a "Swede"), and from there it spread to the rest of Great Britain and to North America.

Neeps and Tatties are a delicious side dish to accompany the Haggis and your Burns Supper.

Visit the Robert Burns page of our website for Gift Packages and more information about Robert Burns.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Burns Supper: Cock-a-leekie Soup

A Burns Supper, or any good Scottish meal, will often begin with Cock-a-leekie soup.

This is a traditional soup whose use was first recorded in the 16th Century. The main ingredients of the soup are chicken broth, chicken and leeks. Cock-a-leekie can also contain prunes, potatoes, herbs or Scotch whisky. As with any soup, there are many variations.

It has been suggested that the reason for the addition of prunes was to increase the nutritional value of the broth, back in the times when the broth had to stretch over many meals. They do add a rich, deep flavor that you don't get with any other fruit or vegetable.

Sir Walter Scott in St. Ronan's Well says: "Such were the cock-a-leekie and the savoury minced collops...."

Visit the Robert Burns page of our website for Gift Packages and more information about Robert Burns.