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FOOD HOLIDAY: Scottish Fare On January 25, Burns Night


Haggis in its “cook-in-bag” (the sheep’s stomach) can be found online.

In Scotland, January 25th is a national holiday that celebrates the birthday of the great romantic poet, Robert Burns, in 1759. On Burns Night, family and friends gather for an evening of good food and company—much like our Thanksgiving. A traditional Burns’ Supper is served.

Put on your best tartan, get out the bagpipe and plan your own Burns Night by gathering the crew for Scottish food and drink.

Read some of Burns’ most popular poems: Auld Lang Syne; A Red, Red Rose; To a Louse; To a Mouse; Tam O’Shanter, Ae Fond Kiss and perhaps most appropriate to the occasion, Address to a Haggis.


  • For starters, serve Scottish salmon and/or smoked haddock (called Arbroath smokie, after the east coast fishing town of Arbroath).
  • As a main course, consider Scotch pies—individual pot pies traditionally filled with mutton, but now generally made with beef (beef pies are available from Twin Hens). Beef, lamb and almost any seafood—crab, lobster, mussels, scallops or shrimp, for example—will also do nicely. Or, send someone out to shoot a grouse or pheasant.
  • Haggis: It’s not easy to make haggis, a delicacy that’s a tasty mixture of sheep’s offal, boiled, minced and mixed with beef suet and toasted oatmeal that’s boiled inside the sheep’s stomach. But if your family and friends are adventurous, you can find it online.
  • For veggies, make colcannon, a dish popular in the Western Islands of Scotland (as well as in Ireland). Boil cabbage, carrots, turnip and potatoes; drain and stew for about 20 minutes in a pan with butter, salt and pepper.
  • Stovied tatties are a potato-based dish, designed to use left over meat and vegetables. Diced onions are cooked in beef fat along with leftover beef and vegetables (typically carrots and peas). Water is added to the pan, and then diced potatoes are added and simmered until soft.
  • What’s for dessert? Black bun is a dark, rich fruitcake, chock-full of currants, raisins, finely-chopped orange peel and chopped almonds, spiced with cinnamon and ginger. Or, serve shortbread and tea—always a crowd pleaser. (Read the history of shortbread.)
    An easier celebration might be to invite everyone for a Scotch tasting.

  • How about a Scotch and chocolate tasting?
  • Or, go straight for it: How to plan a Scotch tasting.

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