I spent Burns night this year in London seeing Patti Smith at the Roundhouse. She came out on stage in her usual loose black jacket and waistcoat and jeans but wearing unlikely gold boots. She said they were a tribute to Robert Burns as they burn brightly in the light!
It was also Virginia Woolf’s birthday and Patti read The Waves accompanied by her daughter Jesse on the piano. She read some William Blake too, but no Robert Burns because she “can’t read Scottish”. Someone shouted for “Emile Bronte!” and Patti looked confused and answered “Emily Blunt?” Sharp!
We were treated to Pissing in the River (with guitar solo by her son Jackson), Southern Cross and Dancing Barefoot. All sang beautifully. When she paused, people shouted “We love you Patti!”.
She covered Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning, and a wonderfully stripped back version of Love Is All We Have Left before admitting it was stolen from U2. Someone shouted “We don’t love you any more” and she said “You people are fucking weird”.
She read passages from her books Just Kids and M Train and told some anecdotal stories about her and Robert Mapplethorpe standing in front of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s giant billboard in Times Square declaring ‘War Is Over…’. She told a great story about her pilgrimage to find the Delft grave of scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the man who invented glasses, to thank him for helping her to see again.
She was frustrated everyone was rooted to their seats but got us up on our feet for Because the Night and People have the Power and said next time she comes to the Roundhouse “we’re taking out the fucking chairs”. I had mixed feeling about that as I was in wheelchair corner with my broken ankle!
It’s always a magical night with Patti and this was one of the best, it felt like an intimate evening in a 1970’s bookshop even though there were nearly 2,000 of us in the room!
Anyway, the point of this blog is that this year I had a delayed Burns Night supper. Instead of making tatties and neeps I made clapshot – a mixture of swede and potato with chives. Unfortunately my chives in the garden are dead and I didn’t have any in the house so we had chiveless clapshot – it was still delicious.
Haggis is traditionally served as part of the Burns supper on January 25, when Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns, is commemorated. It is a savoury pudding traditionally made of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced up with onion, oatmeal, suet (animal fat), salt and spices. It used to be enclosed in the animal’s stomach but these days it is made using sausage casing rather than an actual stomach – ach! Authentic Scottish haggis has been banned in the US since 1971, because the USDA did not approve of using sheep’s lungs in food – why would you? I had reservations about trying a veggie version of this dish (I’ve not tried vegan black pudding or intestines either!) but now am a convert and have one every year. I used a Macsween vegetarian haggis which was on sale in Waitrose (£2.88 knocked down from £3.60). In case you are wondering…
Ingredients: Oats, Water, Vegetable Margarine (Palm Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Water, Salt, Emulsifier (E471), Flavouring), Black Kidney Beans (10%), Carrot (5%), Swede (5%), Mushrooms, Red Split Lentils (5%), Rehydrated Onions, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Salt, Ground Spices
The clapshot is made by combining boiled swede and potato (cooked separately) mashed with some vegan margarine and a dash of soya milk and freshly ground white pepper.
The whisky sauce is easy, use as much of a carton of vegan cream as you want (I used two-thirds for two people) add half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a small teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, two-three teaspoons of good whisky and lots of freshly ground white pepper. I served it all with some steamed kale.
Happy belated Burns night!