Monday, January 31, 2011

Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, And sae let the Lord be thankit.

Would you eat this?
This delicious looking dish is the infamous haggis. Its made up of sheep's offal (look that word up if you dare) mixed with oatmeal and spices cooked in a bag, a bag made up of sheep's stomach. Although I did know a Scot who used to joke that he tricked tourists into thinking haggis was an animal. "Oh yes, we have to chase the haggis around the Highlands."As if that wasn't appetizing enough its served with a healthy heaping of mashed neeps and tatties. For those who don't speak Scottish slang, that's turnips and potatoes. The result looks like, well, meatloaf, it tastes like a slightly off sausage, and has an odd texture of refried beans. Edible, but not something I'd order again.

[Almost cleaned my plate.]

Somehow I made it through most of it. Surprisingly, I was more offended by the neeps which tasted like a lamer carrot. Why would anyone willingly eat this? Well, it was Burns Night of course! A celebration of the Scottish makar (or laureate) Robert Burns. He's most famous for Auld Lang Syne, but on this particular night another poem is recited, Address to a Haggis. So find an obliging Scotsman to recite, have a shot of whisky, and dig in! One of my goals this year was to avoid haggis (see the tagline of this blog, which I should perhaps take down now), but when you're a member of the Literature Society celebrating this event is mandatory and I didn't want to made fun of for wimping out and ordering a vegetarian version, even if it does look and taste better.

[Veggie haggis, makes for a good fry up on a weekend.]

Obviously, I'm back in Edinburgh. Bracing the wind, sarcastic Scots, and haggis with good humor. I'm three weeks into my second semester and things couldn't be better! I'm in all third year English literature courses and attending enough Literature Society events (pub quizzes, pub crawls, and poetry slams) that I should join the committee already.
[Our winnings]

To wash all those authors down I've finally found a Scottish beer I like! Belhaven Best, a pale ale from the oldest independent brewery in Scotland. It tastes a bit like honey in the beginning and finishes strong, the perfect accompaniment to any pub quiz (your standard bar trivia). I've been to four already this term in various teams and pubs, but we're nearly dominating everywhere we go. My team came in second at a student pub quiz, we came in third at the Literature Society pub quiz (quite the achievement considering the second place team was made up of postgrads and the first place went to the professors team), and we even won one at a local pub! Our winnings were the entry fee, roughly 40 pounds split between our six teammates so about 6 pounds each, but the honor was worth more. What a good way to start off the semester!