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MON- SAT: 12 noon— lam SUNDAY: lpm- 10.30pm

Phone: 031-225 1796

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John MacSween of MacSween and Son Ltdi‘ w Ha is Maker. 130 Bruntstied Place. 'v 99 / . 7

Edinburgh. with one of his world

famous haggises. Also available is vegetarian haggis. made from oatmeal. nuts. lentils and much more.


Taking pride of plate 2


11 any Burns' Supper. the haggis must be piped into the

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room with due pomp. skirling. and the cook. (‘arried sunwise around the company. it's placed before the chairperson who hands the piper a double whisky before respectfully addressing the haggis in Burns‘ immortal ()de (see below). The haggis is then ready for cutting. but stand well clear ifthe skin is plastic and not sheep's stomach. l’receded and followed by grace. the meal comes before the evening's toasts. speeches and merry-making.

FIRST DEGREE BURNS Even the best laid Burns’ Suppers. it seems. gang aft agley. An excuse for blethering. blustering drunkenness for some. for others a relatively sober appreciation of Scotland's most considerable poet. Burns‘ Night has become a hallowed occasion. swathed in a Tam o'Shanterian swirl oftradition. sentiment and conviviality.

Warmed by well-nursed haggis and lavish draughts ofold John Barleycorn. the minutes generally wing their way wi‘ pleasure. After all. for many Scots. January Zfith is one of the few ways left of expressing a sense ofpatriotism. not to mention getting unco fou in the name of literature. But. though Burns would have been the first to applaud the endless flow of national spirit. it can lead to division as well as harmony.

Writer Willie Mclllvaney. though he has now declared a personal moritorium on Burns‘ Suppers. fondly remembers one time where a prominent local councillor was giving the address. ‘The doors burst open and a heckler. of a different political persuasion. and totally drunk. came in and started arguing with the speaker. In the end he had to be escorted out. I'd quite like to have left with him he‘d made one or two good points!‘

Billy Kay. Ayrshire-bred author of The Mir/zer Tongue. used to view Burns‘ Night as the only time in the year when he and his friends could safely lapse into brogue without risking a skelp across the lug. and even now. his school-drilled recitation gets him through his turn at the Supper. Learning Tam

o‘Shanter piecemeal over the years for the annual school competition. ‘eventually I realised I had it strung together.’ No small feat: but. once digested. Burns” poetry. like haggis. is easily repeated exactly the point made by Liz Lochhead‘s legendary Auntie Nettie. ‘who would have loved to have been immortalised by Burns. She thinks Burns‘ Suppers are smashing. A wee taste of haggis is nice now and again. though it does tend to come back on you a bit.‘

A boneless SUbJCCI of contention. the haggis can raise heated responses. Historian and writer ()wen Dudley Edwards‘ advice on the beastie is unequivocal. ‘Vegetarian haggis is terrible. Stay away from it.‘ Kosher haggis. on the other hand or (longer) leg— is ‘quite splendid‘ he says. as are Jewish Burns‘ Nights. where the bard. appropriately enough. becomes Rabbi Burns.

Memories of haggis for Billy Kay. however. are rather touchy. ‘l was doing an interview with a Guardian reporter about the ()dyssey series. and the need for programmes on Scotland that go beyond the clichés oftartan. haggis and bagpipes. when the phone rang. It was my wife she‘s Portuguese asking me how to cook a haggis.‘ His neck turning a shade not dissimilar to a red. red rose. ‘1‘“ phone back later.‘ he said.

Love them or loathe them. Burns' Suppers are certainly unique. They may. as Mclllvanney suggests. have blotted out the rest of the poetic landscape but. as with the Damarts your aunt sends every Christmas. it‘s the thought that counts. As Owen Dudley Edwards says. ‘Ifthe English had a Shakespearean Supper. it‘d be

RESTA URA NT: 'l‘ue—Sat (evenings only») I able D‘HOIe and a la carte menus

BRASSERIE: Seven days: lunehtimes and evenings Wide range of meals available

7 () [.1) FIX/{MA RKIiT CLOSE EDI/V'Bl ’RGH (Li/-225 5428

a white tie and stiffshirt affair. But with Burns. it‘s not just a celebration. it's an excellently democratic occasion. '

Here‘s tae us!


l‘air fa' your honest. sonsie face. (ireat ('hieftain o‘ the l’uddin-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place. l’ainch. tripe or thairm: Weel are ye wordy of a grace As lang's my arm The groaning trencher there ye fill. Your hurdies like a distant hill. Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o' need. While thro‘ your pores the dews distil Like amber bead. llis knife see Rustic-labour dight. An' cut you tip wi‘ readyslight. Trenching your gushing entrails bright Like onie ditch; And then. () what a glorious sight. Warm. reekin. rich!

Then. horn for horn they stretch an' strive. l)eil tak the hindmost. on theydrive. Till a' their weel-swall‘d kytesbelyve

Are bent like drums; Then auld (iuidman. maist like to rise. Be thankit hums.

ls there that owre his l'rench ragout. ()r olio wad staw a sow. ()r fricassee wad mak her spew Wi' perfect scummer. Looks down wi‘ sneering. scornfu‘ view ()n sic a dinner'.’

Poor devil! see him owre his trash. As feckless as a wither'd rash. llis spindle shank a guid whip-lash llis nieve a nit Thro' bluidy flood or field todash. () how unfit!

But mark the Rustic. haggis-fed. The trembling earth resounds his tread. (‘lap in his walie nieve a blade. lle'll mak it whistle;

An' legs. an' arms. an' heads willsned. Like taps o' thristle.

Ye pow‘rs wha mak mankind your care. And dish them out their bill o' fare. Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware. That jaups in luggies;

But. if ye wish her gratefu’ pray'r. (iie her a l laggis!

I The Organic Wine Guide (‘harlotte Mitchell and Ian Wright ( Mainstream £4.95). ‘Is it alcoholic‘." is the commonest reaction to organically produced wine. After all. if it sounds healthy. it'sbound to be boring. In the first-ever comprehensive guide to organic wine. Charlotte Mitchell and Ian Wright distill their expertise and attempt to debunk myth and encourage an already growing interest in this delicious but rather neglected new field.

Not only is organic wine as intoxicating as any other. and better value per vat return. but it also spares the liverthe delightful ‘cocktail of fungicides and pesticides' that goes into chemically- aided vine and wine production. With honest comments on wines sampled by their fearless tasting panel (‘this had the typical Scheurebe cat‘s piss nose. although not unattractive'). the Organic Wine Guide is more than just a sip bysip account of organic wines available world-wide. Lightly written and informative. it gives fascinating background details on wine history and scandals. a list of British retail and restaurant outlets. and a helpful glossary for those who're beginning to think that ‘nose‘ can only mean (‘omic Relief. (Rosemary Goring)

44 The List 22 Jan 4 Feb 1988