I tried haggis for the first time last week and was surprised at how delicious it was. I don’t know what I expected haggis to taste like, but the theory of the food did not appeal to me, so the taste was a delightful surprise.
The haggis was served under a mash of potatoes and turnip, all covered in a white savory gravy (and paired with a scotch that was a bit too strong for me, if I’m honest).
The occasion for such a dish was the Socorro Rotary’s first attempt at a Robert Burns Night. The room was full, the bagpipe was hot, and the poetry readings were celebratory.
Robert Burns is perhaps Scotland’s most famous poet. He wrote in English and Scots. Burns is known for original work and for compiling and preserving traditional Scottish songs like the new year’s eve favorite “Auld Lang Syne.”
Burns Nights are celebrated on the poet’s birthday, Jan. 25.
Socorro’s Rotary (which, full disclosure, I happen to be a member of) organized what, as far as I can tell, was a pretty traditional Burns Night, including the Selkirk Grace, bagpiping, and an enthusiastic reading of Burns’s “Address to a Haggis,” by chapter president (and New Mexico Tech Librarian) David Cox. Rotarian Jon Morrison ceremonially cut the haggis during the reading (appropriate, as he also cooked the haggis). Rotarian Eileen Comstock also handled much of the cooking and setup.
There were plenty of toasts, poems, and a cheerful rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”
The lyrics to “A Red, Red Rose,” a Burns song based on traditional sources, were read aloud. I was surprised for a second time in the evening. I did not recall the name Robert Burns when the idea of a Burns Night first came up, but the words to the poem were incredibly familiar, and very beautiful.
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
I suppose that’s the sign of a great poet—that the work is so entrenched I didn’t even realize I had encountered it before.
Rotary sold tickets to the raucous event, raising funds for scholarships for local students, and other local projects, like river clean-ups and donations for the Socorro High School Michigan Ave. Marketplace. In total, $2,800 was raised.
The chapter plans yo do a Burns Night again next January. If you go, definitely have the haggis.