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Hey, Mary Beth. I've got a haggis story too (see her story right below).

Happened last Saturday.

Carla's and my friend Annie is true-blue Scots. Asked us to her annual Robbie Burns party, featuring The Haggis as the main part of dinner.

So I go with Carla's friend, Jan, 'cause Carla's workin'.

Bottom line, Jan wasn't prepared for The Moment.

It was worth it just to see her face scrinch up when she bit into her haggis.

"Ew! Yech!"

Annie comes up.

"And how is my wee haggis?"

"It's, uh, different," says Jan. "A great experience."

"I can see she needs our alternative," says Annie. "The beef bourguignon."

Jan is from Florida. Annie's from Edinburgh.

This celebration of "Burns Day" is the day when Scots the world over celebrate the nation's folk poet, Robbie Burns, the Mark Twain of Scotland.

Burns wrote the ode "To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With A Plough," the one that begins "Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie / O, what a panic's in thy breastie!"

And the one that has the famous line John Steinbeck used, "The Best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang oft agley."

How do I know all this? My grandma, who was more Scottish than the Scots, rammed this thing down our throats, before she'd ram Scottish porridge down our gullets.

So this night was all about Burns and the haggis. Haggis? Basically a sheep's stomach stuffed with all the sheep's guts and tubes. Cheap nosh for Scottish shepherds, and now the national dish. Heck, Annie says you can buy haggis BURGERS in Scotland.

Only thing is, it takes a wee bit of getting used to. It's like ground beef, but less taste.

I'd say top taste assistance comes from the 8-year Glenfiddich whiskey we all have to drink while we eat, and to toast "The Bard."

But man what a joyful party. These Scots know how to celebrate. My only embarrassment: when it comes time to sing and dance. And those Scots know a zillion songs, and will dance to anything.

And the haggis? It's a savory pudding containing sheep's "pluck," according to Wikipedia, meaning heart, liver and lungs, mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, encased in the actual sheep's stomach and simmered for three hours.

Back in 1787, Annie tells me, The Bard penned this "Address to a Haggis."

It begins, uh, "Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face / Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!"

But what an evening. We sang our lungs out, helped by the Glenfiddich, for sure. Never will I say the Scots don't know how to party.

And, hey, opportunity knocks!

How's about a chain of fast-food haggis joints, using all the cheap parts they throw away. Undercut McDonald's!

Or maybe not. As I start to get some haggis together to take home to the lovely Carla, Jan comes up.

"Sure you want to do that?" she says. "You do want to keep the marriage together, don't you?"

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Comments

Mary Beth Abate Jan. 25, 2012 @ 3:09 p.m.

Ed, I was thinking of you when I wrote my piece. I knew you'd be game for it.

Did you follow the whole Burns Supper agenda? I'd love to hear what the Toast to the Lassies was!

Gi hər ə hagɪs!

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Ed Bedford Jan. 26, 2012 @ 2:12 a.m.

Ms. MB: Oh yes. The whole agenda. Addressing the haggis, stabbing the haggis, toasting the haggis.

A tall gent gave the Toast to the Lassies. He brought up great Scottish lassies like Queen Anna of Denmark. Seems she was the wife of King James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England. And Jean Armour. Married Rabbie Burns himself after having a couple of his kids. He was quite a man for the ladies, it seems.

What amazed me was how alive all of this history is for the Scots.

And what a party. I came in a Wee, sleekit, cow'rin tim'rous beastie, and left (after a rowdie rendering of Auld Lang Zyne, of course) like a lion.

Half blame goes to the Glenfiddich, the other half to the gusto of the clans gathered there. It was like Braveheart without the broadswords.

And actually, Jan was wrong. After a bit, that haggis started to taste pretty darned, well, tasty, if you mixed it with the Swedish turnip. Honestly.

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Ian Pike Jan. 26, 2012 @ 4:50 p.m.

Fact: I used to work at the Link. Was there for the Goat Haggis on Burns Day. There was EVERYTHING in that pudding, jajaja. Yum.

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