Burns Supper saves a seat for haggis in honor of poet Robert Burns

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By: Geoff Lesar

One of Scotland’s beloved poets will be honored by people throughout the country Sunday, Jan. 25, with a meal of haggis and whiskey.

Robert Burns is widely regarded as Scotland’s most revered poet and author of folk songs. Following his death in 1796, Burns’ friends and followers chose to honor the luminary and his poem, “Address to a Haggis,” by reserving an evening of food and drink in his name, according to The Macsween Guide to Burns Night.

Known as Burns Supper, the celebration occurs annually on Burns’ birthday, Jan. 25, and features a vegetarian’s Kryptonite — haggis.   

Tracking down traditional haggis in Northern Indiana is impossible, but there are alternatives.

The Scottish dish incorporates, among other organs, sheep’s lung, an ingredient banned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1970s. Restrictions on the importation of haggis are currently still in place. 

  • Lamb lungs, heart and trimmings are combined with oatmeal, onion and spices, then encased in a sheep’s stomach or ox cecum — a true gastrointestinal treat.
  • Haggis is traditionally served with whiskey. For those still on the food fence, a strong drink could ease apprehensions.
  • There are U.S.-based distributors that offer legal variations of haggis, minus the lamb lung. 
  • Vegetarians seeking a safe Burns bash have taken to tweaking the tradition.
  • To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Burns’ birth in 2009, more than 3,900 Burns Suppers occurred in over 80 countries. Little Bo Peeps around the world are still searching for lost livestock.
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