Monday, 25 January 2010
Tonicht's the nicht
Not for us, I'm sorry to say: Burns Night has been postponed until our guests can make it, on Sunday. But since I've just come back from Glasgie I was able to bring to the table a clootie dumpling. I think we were served one many years ago by the Gray-McCrorie duo, who always intrigued me by dangling the name in their inimitable Greenock accents, and of course these puds are best made by mam or grannie. But I was proud to buy the last in stock in a Sauciehall Street bakery.
Clootie dumplings, if the thought doesn't make you feel peely-wally - thanks, Ruth, for reminding me of that - have even inspired an exclusive website, thebestclootiedumplings.com.
I was also intrigued by row upon row of haggi of all sizes in the nearby M&S; but rightly guessed that a sizeable McSween could be hunted down in our local Waitrose. So - Patricia will honour us on Sunday by reciting Rabbie's famous ode over it. A stanza or three will do here:
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race !
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm :
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?
concluding a xenophobic diatribe with:
Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
I am, d'ye ken, an honorary Scot, four and a half more or less happy years a resident of Edinburgh (OK, Nice, don't kid yourself, they'll never let you join the club). And as I'm about to drown you in a sea of nostalgia for 30 years ago, when we green students first arrived in Auld Reekie, here as prelude is my major walk down memory lane. In first year, it was from Pollock Halls to George Square. For the next two years, the approach was from the north, from New Town to Old. I did it in reverse on a visit last Thursday - from the loved-and-hated David Hume Tower, one of the monstrosities which swept away half a Georgian square, so functional and yet with such fine views from the classics library on the fifth floor
down George IV Bridge, where Bauermeister's books and records are no more, to the Playfair Steps which we never tired of ascending or descending
and that immortal view upwards from the sphinxes to New College
before heading down the hill towards the Firth of Forth and home, 32 Dundas Street (pictured at the end of my last Edinburgh blog entry. You can see why I wallow in McCall Smith.