As regular readers know, I often encourage you to break bread with others by hosting dinner parties as the urge strikes. They needn’t be fancy, they needn’t be formal, but they should be fun. It is still (almost), Robbie Burns Day in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. And so it was that a friend and I were reflecting on an infamous Robbie Burns dinner I hosted seven or eight years ago, to which the women wore tartan skirts and the men wore kilts.
It was the one and only time I’ve held a dinner to honor the Bard, and the scotch and merriment got the better of me. I forgot about the haggis burbling on the stove - boiling furiously rather than simmering slowly. The inevitable explosion sounded like a cannon, blasting bits of haggis and sheep’s intestine into the kitchen ceiling like meaty shrapnel.
At almost exactly the same moment, I lit the flaming whiskey punch I expected to awe and amaze my guests. The simultaneous boom of the haggis loosened my grip on the whiskey, so that a column of blue flame shot straight to the ceiling, dancing inches from disaster.
I was single at the time - a blushing lass of 60 with uncertain prospects - but still had no clue that one of my kilted guests (a single schmaltz Scot) had his eye on me. After he’d patched up and carried the shredded haggis (most of which remained stuck to the ceiling) into the dining room, and after he’d recited Burns’ Ode to the Haggis and Ode to the Lassies, and after he’d poured yet another of many tipples, he decided to declare his feelings for me to everyone in the room.
Squatting beside me, kilt creeping up his wide-open legs, he began to warble Scottish love songs. Another Scot - also male but happily married - felt it might be time to say the usual pleasantries and depart. In the vernacular, he said he thought I might want to “get a leg over.”
I did not. I had no interest in the single Scot. Red-faced, I threw him out. All these years later, I continue to feel I wasted a great opportunity, because I alone was left to scrape the haggis off the ceiling. I should have let him do it - averting my eyes as he climbed the ladder - and then thrown him out.
That Robbie Burns dinner may have been memorable - but it was not my biggest failure as a hostess.
The most disastrous - literally - was a dinner party in which the guest of honor rose from the table, pronounced my meal the worst he’d ever eaten, put on his coat, and left. True story.
I’m still travelling, Dollinks, but will have recipes for you through early February.
Later Today: Smoked Salmon Dip.