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  • Signe Langford

Burns, Baby, Burns!

Originally posted on 2/2/2013

​This is Clan Davidson's modern tartan. There are many variations, for hunting, fancy affairs, ancient and others.

Yeah, I know, I'm a wee bit late, and soon the world will be turned all pink and red by people in love, looking for love, dreaming of love, or just eating pink cupcakes pining for love. Never mind, my fun Burn's Night AGA dinner is worth revisiting (for me, anyway) even at this late date....because....Scottish descendants are a fierce and proud lot. We cling to our Scottish roots, no matter how tenuous.

My mother was born on Canadian soil. Her mother - my Grandma Sadie - was a Scot. She was pregnant with my mother when her staunch and I'm going to assume, cold as ice, family shuffled her onto a boat bound for Montreal. She was pregnant out of wedlock. But it wasn't for lack of desire...the young man wanted to marry Sadie, but he was a Jew and therefor, the family didn't allow it. On the other hand, having an illegitimate child - and part Jewish at that! - was too much for my ancestors to bear, so off she went. Forced away from her love (I believe his name was George Woolgar, though there's no one left to ask), and her home, off she sailed.

Mother was born in Montreal. My father comes from English and Scottish folk, though I choose to ignore the English (Langford) and cleave to the Scottish (Clan Davidson). I think it's the wild, warrior, tribal aspect of the Scots that makes them so fascinating.

Every year, my mother and father would head off to the local legion to celebrate Burns' Night. I didn't go. It was a grown up thing. But she did bring me home a slice of haggis, wrapped up in a paper napkin. I failed to get all the excitement. It certainly didn't stir in me the joy and pride it aroused in her. She played Kenneth Keller on the Hi-Fi and recited Burns' poems. "My love is like a red, red rose...."

But, as with so many things we take for granted as kids, as I age, Burns Night and my Scottish roots take on more importance and I become more Scottish than ever I was before....or really have any right to be!

Valerie Howes is a real Scot. The kind with an accent. You know, fresh off the boat...sort of. She invited me to a Burns Night celebration at the AGA store. Sure, I was going to have to work for my supper - I even sang for it, a little... but I was going to eat haggis and play with AGAs. And eat tatties and neeps. I can eat turnips with butter, maple, salt and pepper all day! And yet I don't. Not until they're set in front of me all by someone else.

Haggis is offal all ground up with spices and oats and barley, jammed inside a sheep stomach, and despite all that, it is truly delish! Hey, this is nose to tail eating before it had a cool name and was made all trendy by top chefs.

You don't eat the stomach - toss it to the hounds! Once this puppy is steamed and cut open, it's soft and the aroma and gamy. I had to defile it with my knife (German-made!) because I do not own a dirk. It's on my wish list.

Bottom line? If you've never tried haggis, do. If you like Scotch, that will help.

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