Wednesday, 28 January 2015


I am not Scottish but for many years I have had, a fondness for Burn’s Night.
Haggis, Neeps and Tatas on the table. Flower of Scotland in the background and ‘The ode’. Fun for all the family and lifts the spirits in January. Yes, and a good excuse to drink a drop of whiskey.
This connection with Burns night started for me in Southern Spain.
January is a quiet time on The Costa Del Sol. Many of our local bars were closed.
In the few Ex-pat bars that were open there was more time to chat.
This particular bar was run by a chap from Liverpool.  It was very close to our apartment and a warm escape from the cold wind.
This was before satellite TV and the internet. Newspapers were at least a day old and told stories of a UK, somehow remote. Life was local and layered. Spanish friends and work colleagues but also the relaxed repartee in the ex-pat bars at night. Drink was cheap.
My wife and I were the only customers and we sat chatting to the owner.
Talk turned to attracting more customers. We had owned restaurants and although not a chef I am a fair cook. Offer food was an obvious solution. But what?
Another mutual friend had called me on Christmas Eve morning for help.
He had forgotten to defrost the turkeys for his restaurant . With loads of booking for that night. He was panicking. One oven and four frozen turkeys in the freezer. We put the turkeys in the bath to defrost. One after another in his oven. One in ours and I drove fifteen miles to my mothers house where she cooked the final one. Chaotic but everyone had a great night.
With this little accomplishment in mind maybe I was a bit arrogant.
Why not do Burn’s Night? You provide the whiskey I will do the Haggis.
Mashed potatoes and swede was easy. How do you make Haggis?
No internet to look up the recipe. No cook book.
 Oh dear phone my Mum. 
She had a friend who was a butcher. A Welsh butcher! 
Oh well. Oats? Would Ready Brek do? Sheeps; liver, kidneys, hearts and lungs.
No butcher in Spain would sell me lungs.
The rest we minced and mashed tied up in a new muslin cloth and steamed for hours.
It was a great night. Half the customers were Spanish. I never really found out what they thought about this strange Scottish fare.Cooked prepared and served by two lads from Brighton and  Liverpool.
We never made Haggis again.
He moved away

My friend! I raise a glass to you every twenty fifth of January and remember the happy times.

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