Local bagpiper Gordon Titsworth gives haggis the rightful respect the Scottish fare deserves before it’s plated up Saturday night to honour poet and lyricist Robbie Burns. Titsworth describes haggis as a grand Scottish sausage that’s been part of events honouring the Scottish bard

Local bagpiper Gordon Titsworth gives haggis the rightful respect the Scottish fare deserves before it’s plated up Saturday night to honour poet and lyricist Robbie Burns. Titsworth describes haggis as a grand Scottish sausage that’s been part of events honouring the Scottish bard

Trail Legion set for haggis-filled Robbie Burns event this weekend

Celebrate Robbie Burns Day Saturday night at the Trail Legion.

As local groups celebrate the life and work of Robbie Burns this week, a Scottish delicacy the bard found especially pleasing, will take centre stage before the Highland dancing and bagpiping begin.

“Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware that jaups in luggies:

“But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer, Gie her a Haggis.”

Robbie Burns has been six feet under for 220 years. But his written work titled “Address to a Haggis,” forever links the famous poet to his appreciation for haggis, a traditional Scottish fare.

Widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, Burns’ words translate to, “Old Scotland wants no watery stuff, that splashes in small wooden dishes. But if you wish her grateful prayer, give her (Scotland) a haggis!”

Friends of the Bard of Ayrshire began gathering after his untimely death at age 37, reciting his ode before digging into the offal dish.

Therein began the long held practice of reading the address before Robbie Burns commemoration affairs.

The custom jumped continents as immigrants made their way to North America and became part of localized events – like the annual Robbie Burns dinner at the Trail Legion on Saturday.

For 15 years the job of sourcing up to 100 pounds of haggis for community events has fallen to Trail bagpipe legend, Gordon Titsworth.

“Sheeps and cows are the vessel and the contents are the things they (Scotsmen) would grow locally,” he said. “And being Scottish,they don’t waste a lot,” Titsworth chuckled. “There would be offal and a mixture of other things, sometimes mutton. But more what we’ve come to flavour ours with, is beef.”

Depending upon who you ask, haggis is described as a savoury pudding or grand Scottish sausage, though Titsworth says it’s the latter.

Tasting the meaty delicacy and choosing the final product is somewhat of an art. But for the Trail Pipe Band president, the practise is as sentimental as it is connoisseurial.

“I remember when I was a kid the band held the Burns night at the Local 480 Hall,” he recalled. “There was always haggis from somewhere, though I don’t know where it came from back then. Haggis is made differently depending upon who’s making it – but it’s always been a tradition.”

Titsworth usually orders his haggis from a producer in Fife. Logistics forced him to find another local source this year, though the end result was just as pleasing – flavoursome haggis made by a meat market in Kaslo.

“It will be part of the main plate on Saturday night, and some people like me, will take much more haggis than others,” he emphasized. “But I really like it.”

National dish aside, it’s not a stretch to say the key ingredients of traditional haggis, being sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs), minced onions, oatmeal suet and spices all contained in an animal’s stomach – may not immediately appeal to younger palates.

But some adventuresome local youth recently had a taste, and Titsworth says a few of them even came back for seconds.

Last fall, he was special guest for an after-school program at the Trail and District Public Library, called “Passport to the World.”

“They invite someone from a different culture each week,” Titsworth explained. “So I cooked up some haggis and brought it down.

“After I told the kids what it was, there were some who didn’t want to try it at all,” he chuckled. “And some who came back for several plates.”

Haggis can be steamed or baked, though Titsworth prefers the steaming method to lock the moisture in the casing.

“I tend to like mine that way,” he added.

“At the Legion we serve extra gravy because a lot of people like to have the flavour of the haggis mixed in.”

Besides haggis, plates at the Trail Legion dinner are piled high with roast beef, “neeps and tatties” (turnips and potatoes) and for some, a dram, otherwise known as a glass of Scotch whiskey.

Though servings are usually polished off at the Robbie Burns event, Titsworth says haggis is particularly tasty the following morning.

“If by any chance you can find leftover haggis,” he shared.

“You put it in your frying pan and then fry your eggs on top of it – it’s wonderful.”

For information about the Robbie Burns dinner and dance, presented Jan. 23 by the Trail Legion and Trail Pipe Band, contact the branch at 364.1422.

Another little known fact is that haggis has been unavailable south of the border since 1971. The ban was issued when the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) declared livestock lungs could not be used as human food.

The reasoning is not for the squeamish – fluids from the stomach, for example, could make its way into the lungs of an animal during the slaughtering process.

Because sheep lungs are a key ingredient in Scottish-made haggis, the product cannot be imported to the States.

Just Posted

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Painting by Dave Davies from Shaver’s Bench facing Teck Trail.
Happy 120th Birthday to the City of Trail!

The town of Trail Creek- or Trail Creek Landing - was incorporated as a city on June 14, 1901.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read