KSFSS 4th Annual Burns Supper – January 21, 2019
Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.
|Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Is there that ower his French ragout,
Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
|Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.
The groaning platter there you fill,
His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
Then, spoon for spoon, the stretch and strive:
Is there one, that over his French ragout,
Poor devil! See him over his trash,
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
You powers, that make mankind your care,
I’m Ben, and some of you might have seen me around here, lurking close to Steve and Claude and Christine, trying to convince you that I’m part of the “Kelowna Scotch and Fine Spirits” Crew, without putting in any of the actual work.
But then Steve asked me a few weeks ago if I wanted to give the toast to the lassies tonight, so I guess my freeloading days are over.
So when Steve asked me to give the toast I thought to myself “I can do this! I have Scottish parents (this is my Dad’s kilt I stole/inherited), I grew up in a house that hosted Rabbie Burns Suppers, and I have even heard speak of these “fair lassies”.
But lo and behold, though, when yesterday arrived, and somehow, even with all of this natural “skill” my toast had not written itself and I had sit down and get to it! So I chatted briefly with my Scottish dad and I asked him “what does it take to give a good ‘toast to the lassies’ at a Burns Supper” and he replied, “well you should give it with a scotch in hand” – check – “and just like any public speaking you should be well prepared. You should get going if it’s happening on Friday” to which I replied “dad, it’s tomorrow”. And after a heavy sigh he replied “well that’s unfortunate for the lassie giving the reply to your toast – I hope it isn’t Ellen!” (my wife, who is, in fact, giving the reply to this gem of a toast).
But I guess I should get on to the point of this, which, as far as I can tell (by looking it up on the BBC), is meant to be the “humorous highlight of any Burns Night” and here I’ve inserted a note to myself: if there have been laughs so far, say something clever, like “you’re welcome” and if not, then apologize and say “I’m sorry”.
The real point of this toast, though, is to praise the role of women in the world today by using quotes from Burns’ work. Which is somewhat difficult as, if you’re not aware, the role of women in the world today has changed a bit since Burns’ time in the late 1700s, and so has the way one might use prose to convey this.
It’s been said that Robert Burns was a great lover of the lassies; he saw lassies as those to be loved, to chase in the pursuit of physical intimacy, and to befriend. Which is exactly the state of women in the world today, right Ellen?
Ok, so I pulled up a website of Burns’ poetry which you could search by keyword and entered “woman” – there were just a few hundred poems. No sweat.
I read one called ‘My Wife’s a Winsome Wee Thing” where Burns wrote
I never lo’ed a dearer,
and neist my heart I’ll wear her,
For fear my jewel tine.
And I thought that was nice, but then read the similarly titled “My Wife’s a Wanton Wee Thing” which takes on a very different tone and involves hitting said wife with a claw – not a song to be singing today.
So I read on for a while more and found that as Burns aged so did his love and respect of women. I realized this is what happens when a man dies at 37, and a country decides all of his poetry is a national treasure; you end up reading a bunch of poems he wrote in his teens and early 20s. These are love poems written by a teenager – hardly a good place to find poignant and relevant views on women.
Anyway, my dad emailed me later last night to provide more “advice”, and in that same email essentially wrote the perfect one-line toast to the lassies. He wrote:
Ben – It’s been some time since I had the pleasure of giving the toast, but do remember being asked the same question at one of our last Burns Suppers by my friend Paul who was to give it for the first time. I then quickly pointed him in your mum’s direction and said he should talk to her, as she is just more knowledgeable about such matters.
My dad then copied and pasted “A Red, Red Rose” into the email
So because I, unlike my dad, didn’t have the foresight to realize I should have asked my mum about this toast, here is A Red, Red Rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!
To the lassies!
Thank you Ben, for those beautiful sentiments, and thank you to Ben’s dad Stewart, for knowing that Ben would need some pretty words to appease his wife.
As Ben mentioned, he was asked a few weeks ago to give this toast – which really was very nice and thoughtful of Steve and Claude to give Ben so much time to really ponder and consider what he wanted to say tonight. I was asked to respond to Ben’s toast on behalf of the lassies, and while I won’t rehash his points about preparation I will note that it was with a bit of increasing panic in the last week that I would ask Ben when he was going to write his speech.
So I found myself at work this morning, with a freshly written speech in my inbox from Ben, and less than 12 hours to write a response. Now unfortunately I do not have a Scottish father to check-in with about all things Robbie Burns, and I could ask my lovely Scottish mother-in-law about writing the reply to the toast, but, I mean, I have to get this done in less than 12 hours and who would expect someone to help write a speech in that little time! So I turned to Google.
Apparently, I am not the only lassie to have this problem.
So before I toast the laddies, I wanted to thanks all the lasses who have come before me and from whom I can borrow a few words.
They’re charming and talented – each one a gem.
Where else can one find such superior men who excel
At eating and drinking and talking so well?
They can sing, they can dance, they can speak Burns’s quotation;
What they’re really best at is procrastination.
But let us not sell our laddies up short.
For they do noble deeds of many a sort.
When they bring fine spirits to our little club,
It brings such joy to this section of the pub.
So with one last tribute let me sign-off:
And make sure that this time Claude has his microphone off.
Our laddies, like a good cask-strength whiskey,
They’re strong, they’re bold and surprisingly frisky.
TO THE LADDIES!
Ode to a Haggis
Traditionally prepared with lamb’s pluck, oats, and spices
42.44 Winter Warmer (58.5% ABV)
The nose evokes a beach bonfire barbecue on shell sand – maple-cured bacon and Portobello mushrooms sizzling away; someone is smoking Sobrani cigarettes and there are creamy custard tarts for after. The palate is pretty straightforward – balancing simple sugary barley sweetness with mineral, shale-like smoke; it has a slightly oily mouth-feel. Water shifts the nose to coal tar soap and creamy, nutty smoke. The palate is now much sweeter and better balanced – imagine smoked bonbons; a touch of citrus starts to come through – lemon, clove and Fisherman’s Friends on the finish. A dram for inner warmth before chopping logs in the snow. ($154.99)
Course, the First
Cullen Skink Soup
Haddock, leeks & potatoes, smoked albacore tuna “bacon”, sunchoke chips, chive & jalapeño biscuits
64.91 Porridge Oats on a Tropical Beach (58.8% ABV)
Giving an aroma reminiscent of a 1980s Saab the summer sun was beating down on the upholstery as we sat down to order sweet honey nut cereal and porridge oats with lingonberry jam, ripe apples and banana. A side of honeydew melon was thrown in with a healthy topping of jellybeans and pear drops. For liquid refreshment we ordered blackcurrant tea, vanilla milkshake and hot malted milk for its full-bodied texture. Sitting just next to the beach we admired the tropical scene of coconut and pineapple trees, enjoying the warmth and citrus aromas of a nearby nectarine stall. ($124.99)
Course, the Second
Lamb Leg Ravioli
Celeriac & black truffle purée, organic watercress, pine nuts, smoked sage jus, tarragon mushrooms, mustard brown butter sauce, parmesan reggiano
2.106 Devilishly Opulent (61.3% ABV)
On opening the doors to the dunnage warehouse we were greeted by the familiar waft of old oak mixed with strong spirit and the smell of clean earth that was reminiscent of strolling in a pine forest in springtime. Sweet notes were in abundance as caramel wafers became pink wafer biscuits with sticky warm fudge. Soft leather and sweet tobacco merged with the rich fruitiness of figs, dates and raisins lavishly coated with opulent dark chocolate. Then heaps of spice appeared with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger marmalade on rye bread that was joined on the palate by chewy toffee. The prolonged finish was sweet and fruity and now with the presence of herbal notes and scented wood. After spending 8 years in an ex-Oloroso butt this was transferred to a 1st fill Pedro Ximenez butt for the remainder of its maturation. ($174.99)
Course, the Third
Sous vide hen’s egg, English sausage, Balderson’s cheddar and potato purée, curly endive, warm bacon vinaigrette, Choron sauce
53.250 Smoked Salt Orange Peel (58.4% ABV)
Introduced by a salty twang the nose discovered rich oils from sardines and mackerel as they sizzled in a pan of melted salted butter until it smoked and blackened in the heat. Burning heather produced a perfumed smog that echoed shades of oily orange skin and the sticky gloss of glacé cherries. The palate evolved this sweeter strategy into honey and currants, perhaps taking in a barbecued glaze before diving head-first into a tin of smoked fruit salad. Ever-present waves of delicate floral perfume weaved around fresh fennel and sticky liquorice that merged into tar covered ropes on a finish that returned to salt and sweet smoke. ($191.99)
Course, the Fourth:
Herb Roasted Beef Medallion
Potatoes pave, creamed horseradish root, Trevino ham crunch, semi-dried tomato, cauliflower and Gorgonzola purée, diablo onion ring, Périgeux sauce
93.90 A Masculine Enigma (53.1% ABV)
On the nose, we found nougat dipped in white chocolate and Tunnocks Snowballs (coconut, chocolate, soft marshmallow). Easier to identify were rusting shipwrecks and rock-pools, West Coast disused slate quarries, peppery Scotch pies and honey-roast ham (with cloves); burnt jam tarts, vanilla pods, ash and smoke from burning cardboard. The palate also had its grubby side – charred twigs, charred lime, oiled wood, licking envelopes, watches with leather straps, smoke and ash – but we found enough positive sweetness to excuse it – nut brittle, sugar buns, honey, biscuit tin crumbs, cheap chocolate and pickled ginger. An enigma, but with a certain masculine charm. ($207.99)
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Check Your Head stout ice cream, English toffee sauce
G9.3 Fruit, Spice and All Things Nice (62.6% ABV)
First impressions swung heavily towards creamy vanilla and fine powdery sawdust with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg spice. After a few deep breaths light citrus, milk chocolate and oily walnuts announced their arrival before developing into intriguing peppermint freshness. The palate delivered a punch of intense sweetness as it danced across brown sugar, mango and chocolate orange with the definite shadow of Caribbean rum. Water accentuated the citrus side with a lemon sherbet zing and a much softer and delicate approach on the palate that lead to a satisfying finish of dark chocolate, apple pie and candied orange. ($141.99)
|Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
We twa hae run about the braes,
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
|Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
We two have run about the slopes,
We two have paddled in the stream,
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!