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,

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.


jondrytay said...

I claim honorary Scottish status too, thanks to two seasons in Pitlochry and countless Edinburgh Fringes- and, by one of those weird coincidences, a friend of mine used to live at 30 Dundas Street.

If you want to make your own clootie dumplings, of course, you need to take a tip from Maw Broon:

David said...

Hello Jon, good to hear from you and I was just going to ask if you'd post on Parterre on my behalf and ask if La Cieca were to replace 'fucking Brits' with blacks, Jews and gays she thinks she'd get away with it. Such hatred; such anglophobia. We've debated this before: some huge inferiority complex?

Of course I can't comment myself any more, just seethe from afar.

And you owe us a report on the Met Rosenkav.

Will said...

Is haggi really the plural of haggis? That's delightful, an example of a plural being made by dropping the s.

David said...

Only if I say it is. Probably not, according to the laws of Latin (which it isn't), but 'haggi' has always taken my fancy.

Will said...

It's certainly more elegant than haggises, although I'm not sure that "haggis" and "elegant" are frequent sentence mates. I've never had haggis and it's always an object of theatrically horrified humor by comedians who've been to Scotland. I imagine it may be something like Scrapple, a Pennsylvania Dutch sausage meat that is, save the high fat content, both delicious and also not generally appreciated over here.

There are U.K. online food stores--I may have to see if I can order haggis and give it a try.

David said...

Try the masters, who despatch their haggi double quick:

jondrytay said...

No Rosenkav report, sadly. Turned out I didn't have much to say. A long witter about Turandot though.

David said...

Alas, that interests me much less, of course, though happy to read your inimitable style no matter what. There was, of course, plenty to say about the Goold Turandot here - did you ever see your contemporary's work?

jondrytay said...

Sorry to hear you are less than thrilled by Turandot- especially as one of the pleasures of my Met trip the other week was my realisation that I think it's a bit of a masterpiece. Hardly anyone tells a story with the same economy as Puccini.

I didn't see Rupert's Kung Po Chicken version, no- did I miss much? People keep talking about Echalaz, and now that a friend of mine has conveniently got a job in the ENO box office I am already panting in anticipation of Malfitano's directorial take on Tosca.

David said...

Agreed with all that - I just felt the Zeff Turandot could only be routine-ish, for all the spectacle - or rather, I can imagine it. Whereas that Rosenkav I'd need to be told about.

The Goold Turandot was an amazingly imaginative, tight show. I know, Chinese restaurants and all that don't sound promising, but everything made sense. I did a big spread on it here months back towards the end of the run.

David Damant said...

David Damant writes

Haggis is both singular and plural - like sheep ( very appropriate as the latter comes from the former)