I grew up in a small town of just 600 people, about 85% of whom traced their heritage to Scotland. (My own heritage, through my father's side, traces back to the Maisley-Mcwilliams who hailed from Banffshire. On my mother's side, we are descendents of a McDonald clan.) Our town's name of "Embro" was understood to be a corruption of "Edinburgh" which, pronounced in thick Scottish brogue, pretty much comes out sounding like "Embro." And our elementary school --Zorra Highland Park (which Deanna also attended)--was populated by all sorts of McIntoshs, McKays, McWilliams, and Mathesons.
So it was a wonderful treat for us to be invited by Maggie and Gordon to join them and two other couples to celebrate an authentic Robert Burns Supper, a Scottish tradition honoring the nation's most famous bard, taking place the last weekend of January. It was one of the most wonderful dinner parties we've ever attended. Before each course we enjoyed readings from Robert Burns or other contemporary Scottish poets, and even some authentic Scottish music played on an Appalachian dulcimer. And our hosts and their friends were so wonderfully hospitable and humorous, we were made to feel right at home.
Of course the center of any Rabbie Burns dinner is the main course: haggis, with "nips and tats," preceded by Scottish smoked salmon, and followed by a sweet desert with fruit and then Ayrshire cheese and a digestif. Now, growing up in Embro, I had heard swirling tales about the annual haggis dinner at the community center--tales of sheeps stomachs and intestines (along with rumblings about blood pudding!), none of which enticed me to actually attend such a dinner. But none of the horror stories proved true; quite the opposite: Deanna and I absolutely loved the haggis! It was delicious. All in all, the food coupled with lovely fellowship made for an evening we shant forget.