“New year and new possibilities”

09 January 2020, 11:07 am
Fine Food by Charles Campion

Thank goodness we have the New Year to jingle in our pockets.

January lies before us like a shiny new penny – always presuming that coinage hasn’t been abandoned on the grounds that, in today’s expensive times, there is very little that can be bought without folding money. For many tartan folk January means attending a traditional Burns Night Supper. The first of these was held on 29th January 1801 and planned by an enthusiastic detachment of the Argyle Militia who marched out to Burns Cottage near Alloway for a dinner to celebrate the poet’s birthday, blissfully unaware that they had got the wrong date.

Today Burns Night is celebrated on 25th January and has become a focus for unbridled Scottishness. Policemen on knife patrol in the cities will face the interesting challenge of handling large kilted highlanders carrying one – or sometimes two – traditional dirks tucked into their socks. Should you be invited to a Burns Night, brace yourself for haggis, neaps and tatties; long poems (you will doubtless remember To A Mouse, if only for the famous line “That wee cowering timorous beastie”), or perhaps you favour My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose, and then there’s the block buster Ode To A Haggis. All this against a backdrop of many “wee drams” and the plaintive drone of the bagpipes. In the 1970s traditional haggis was banned from America because of the sheep’s offal involved, and until recently there was much grumbling about dual standards – before the advent of the vegetarian haggis which enabled vegetarian diners, and even vegans, to join in on Burns Night. So it’s “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!” – a treat whatever your haggis may be made from.

Among a few latecomers to the 2019 seasonal curiosities line-up is New York Classic Beer’s 60 second commercial. In the ad the star billing goes to Tom Markle Jnr, brother of Meghan Markle Duchess of Sussex, who is described by the PRs as a “British Royal”. The ad is described as a “spoof” of the television show The Royals, and in it New York Classic Beer is depicted as being more valuable than the “Crown Jewels”. Great taste, Tom… The prize for 2019’s best bandwagon was CBD by a mile, with vegan food nudged into the runner-up spot. Do you fancy a hemp mini éclair to keep your canapé offer on trend? Maitre Choux is based in London and offers all manner of buns and canapes for its Events Catering Menu, including the afore-mentioned mini éclair described as a particular hit “in the world of culinary experimentation, a hedonistic delicacy”.

Hopefully we can all look back over 2019 and shrug off the hard times… particularly the sufferings of the high street and the political headless chickens. Much of the woe can be tracked back to the internet’s full frontal attacks on retail, and “beat them at their own game” may be the most viable strategy. Let 2020 be the year that things perk up, a year when you might just keep those ambitious New Year Resolutions.

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