Friday, January 23, 2009

Robbie Burns Supper - Shanghai Edition

Good afternoon everyone!

I'm pleased to include some photos of our group at the Burns Supper held last Saturday - January 17th at the Shangri-la Hotel in Pudong. It was a glorious affair - note the luxurious table setting - the haggis - and check out the clothes on those people.

Mike, Devin (our Irish lads) had tuxedos made by our favorite tailor, Ball, as did Kirk and Denice (representing the Scottish-Americans). Sandy showed up in his favorite tartan and he looked smashing! I had my green Thai silk sheath dress and jacket made at the fabric market as well. Denice and I wore our pearl jewelry to dress it up a bit. Denice's pearl earrings were real pearls - mine were shell pearl jewelry that I made in jewelry class - earrings, bracelet and necklace. If I have to admit it, we all cleaned up pretty darn good.

This was the 250th Anniversary of Robert Burns' birth and those Scots sure know how to party! There was a bottle of Famous Grouse whisky on each table and red and white wine was flowing as well.

I've included some important background information for you to peruse so you've got a wee bit of information going into the evening. Some of you might not know much about Mr. Burns as I was not familiar with his works; but I've since learned he is responsible for quite a lot of international flair. Please read the excerpt below courtesy of the Hartford Courant newspaper.

Burns' political radicalism, romantic verse and use of Scots' dialect have made him a heroic figure to many Scottish people, especially to nationalists like the Scottish National Party, which governs in Edinburgh. "Burns is the inspiration behind our yearlong celebration of some of Scotland's great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations, our rich culture, wonderful heritage and of course, Robert Burns himself," said Scottish tourism minister Jim Mather. But critics accuse tourism chiefs of preaching to the converted. They point out that a sentimental television commercial starring former James Bond actor Sean Connery, pop star Sandie Thom and triple Olympic gold-winning cyclist Chris Hoy singing the ballad "Caledonia" has, so far, only been shown on Scottish networks.

Maybe Americans should stand up and take notice of this gentleman who has brought lots of literature and music too, mind you, to the world's stage. Note Auld Lang Syne - he wrote the words. And we find out that he was very much the ladies' man. He died when he was only 37 years old.

The evening consisted

  • The Selkirk Grace - a short prayer
  • Address to the Haggis (a ceremony where a piper leads the chef into the room with great enthusiasm)
  • The Immortal Memory where a man is invited to give a short speech on the man being honored.
  • Then there is a Toast to the Lassies given by a gentleman. Originally this was to be a thank you to the ladies who cooked the food for the dinner but since most of these dinners are now held in hotels or pubs, sometimes the ladies don't have much to do with the cooking.
  • Followed by The Response that details men's foibles -this speech should be humorous but not insulting and it was done by a lovely Scottish lass who is a school teacher in the area.
  • Dancing, dancing and more raucous dancing and since by this time in the evening, the whisky is almost gone - the dancing had taken on lots of sore toes to ladies and gents who had partners who couldn't and shouldn't have been out on the dance floor.
  • Lastly, Auld Lang Syne sung and danced around in a circle.

I thought the food was better at this event although it wasn't as well attended. Some of the fashions were beautiful - lots of men in tartan kilts - no, you are not supposed to ask what is under them. It's not proper etiquette. However, we saw a woman in a strapless, plaid tartan silk, strapless dress that was absolutely beautiful. I don't know if it was her tartan but she wore it well! And she danced the Scottish dances like she knew what she was doing.

Then there were the usual people who don't know how to dress for an event such as this and they just shouldn't have been wearing denim. Let's not go there. . .

The menu consisted of :
  • the haggis with neeps n'tatties (whatever that is or was)
  • Roasted Beef of Tenderloin with mustard served with whisky mushroom sauce
  • Parsley turnips, cauliflower and roasted potato
  • Scottish apple pie served with vanilla custard sauce and caramel ice cream, blueberry trifle scented with whiskey

Yes, I did taste the haggis, although I didn't find it exceptionally inspiring Sandy stated it wasn't as good as what he was used to.

So this was an event we all enjoyed!

Stay tuned as the Irish will show us all how it's done - we're going to the St. Patrick's Day Ball - same hotel - March 14th. Mike had to do some slick negotiating to get us tickets. This event is advertised to Irish passport holders and since we don't have such a thing - although I think we're thinking about dual citizenship now - he had to do a wee jig!

So I'm off to the fabric market - I know the dress I want to have made - I just need to discreetly tell my dressmaker and choose the Thai silk.

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