Haggis at home: Edmontonians celebrate Robbie Burns Day thanks to local kitchen
EDMONTON -- The birthday of Scotland’s favourite bard, Robbie Burns, is celebrated every Jan. 25 by those of Scottish descent, and many others who wish for the day they were.
Traditionally, the main event is a Burns Supper. A party brimming with readings from his legendary canon, highland music, a dram or two of Scotch and a meal centred around the venerable haggis.
Like everything else in a pandemic world, such large events are off, but that hasn’t quelled cravings some have for the delicacy.
Richard Toll’s local business Celtic Kitchen has been growing its clientele for seven years, and this year’s home-based demand forced him to ramp up production.
“I was freaking out!” he exclaimed. “My phone just kept going and going and I was hoping that I had enough haggis to supply all of Edmonton with their haggis needs. By the luck of Robbie Burns we’re here hawking our haggis.”
Catering to the orders required Toll to produce over 70 of the plump concoctions, with customers calling as they arrive at his south Edmonton kitchen for curb-side pickup.
Nurse Teresa Coughlan came off a long work shift and enthusiastically drove 60 km to pick up her order.
“My best friend lives in Edinburgh and I’ve had the very best haggis in Scotland, so to find it at home in Edmonton has been a thrill.”
Some may find the dish an acquired taste, or one which they can’t bear to sample, given its ingredient list of lamb organ meat and oats. Though to many, its the last word in good eating.
“I do feel like it gets a bad rap”, Toll laments. “Its got a lot of nutrients in it. It obviously sustains Scottish people for a long period of time. Its just getting through that mental block. Its got lots of flavour!”
Piper Alastair Briggs turned up for his order dressed in full Scottish regalia, with the frigid Edmonton air biting at his kilted bare knees.
“I was a little bit worried I wasn’t going to get it,” he told. CTV News Edmonton. “A lot of the functions around the city are cancelled with COVID, so its nice I was able to talk to Richard and get my haggis and cure my craving.”
As one of the few local sources of haggis, Richard Toll enjoys his role as the go-to man for Burns Supper cuisine, even though his tartan masked beard is not nearly grey enough.
“Its like Santa Claus on Christmas. He makes sure those kids get their toys, and I make sure these guys get their haggis!”