Happy St Andrew (2004-11-29 - 6:20 p.m.)
Happy St Andrew's Day! (tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure I won't post again before then.) Apparently this is Scotland's national day, right up there with St Patrick in Ireland and St George in England. Except there's no day off for poor old St Andrew. There are, however, some politicians in Glasgow who are campaigning to make it a national holiday... here's hoping, even though it will likely never impact me.
I actually did celebrate St Andrew's Day this year, though. A few days early - the chaplaincy at Pia's uni (Heriot-Watt) put on events for the international students at the uni, and they usually do some kind of St Andrew's Day celebration. Pia invited me along, and of course I said yes - it was only £4 for a three-course meal plus entertainment. As it turned out, I'm so glad I went - it was brilliant! The chaplain is this very brisk no-nonsense Scottish lady, who I got on quite well with. She had arranged the menu:
Starter: smoked mackerel pate on oatcakes
I normally don't like fish much, but as it turns out smoked fish is actually kind of good. And I was going to wimp out and go for the vegetarian haggis, but Pia got all German on me and said briskly, "No, you will try the real haggis." So I did, and as it turned out it was pretty yummy! I ate almost all of it. There was a lot of oatmeal in it, I think, and it didn't taste much like meat at all - more just spicy. I smushed it all together with the neeps and tatties like a good Scot and it was not nearly as bad as I had feared. Possibly it helped that they also gave everyone a wee dram of whisky to go with it (and I had Pia's as well when she couldn't handle it - they didn't water it down and it was pretty strong!)
The dessert, however, deserves a paragraph all of its own. Sticky toffee pudding is the primary reason to be Scottish, as far as I can tell. It was dense and sweet and moist and absolutely amazing. It was also so rich I almost didn't get through it! I tried a bite of the trifle as well, for comparison, but it didn't hold a candle to the toffee pudding. I think that alone was worth the £4.
Then afterwards they had the entertainment. There was a piper, kilt and all, who was quite good. However, it definitely confirmed my suspicion that that bagpipes should be a strictly OUTDOOR instrument. The room was small, and we were nearly deafened!
Then they had a fiddler, who played not only the traditional Scottish stuff, but some Cape Breton reels as well! I was so pleased. (I was the only Canadian there - I know because he asked before he went into the Cape Breton stuff.) There was meant to be a Scottish storyteller, but he didn't turn up, so the chaplain took over and sang us some traditional songs. This was very entertaining, especially as she sang "Loch Lomond":
Such a pretty song, and one I've always liked (though I'd never before heard it in its entirety). I think, actually, that before I ever heard the tune, I read the lyrics in the Tintin books! Loch Lomond was also the Captain's favorite brand of whisky, if I recall correctly. (I always thought it would be pronounced "lock lo-MOND", not "lock LO-mund" as a kid.)
Anyway, she also sang The Wee Cooper of Fife, although she first apologised for the lyrics and said she does not by any means advocate wife-beating, even if there's a sheepskin involved! Here's the lyrics:
There was a wee cooper lived in Fife
2. She wouldna card and she wouldna spin
3. She wouldna bake and she wouldna brew
4. She called him a dirty Hieland whelp
5. The cooper's awa tae his wool-pack
6. I'll no thrash you for your gentle kin
7. He's laid the sheepskin across her back
8. Oh I will card and I will spin
9. She drew the table and spread the board
10. All you who have gotten a gentle wife
She sang the nickety nackety noo bits as well - amusing.
Then we all sang Auld Lang Syne, and it was great! All in all a very impressively Scottish evening, and I was glad I decided to go.
The interesting thing about the Cooper of Fife song is that people actually talk like that (well, minus the nickety nackety bits!) Especially Lorraine, the waitress I work with. I love how she talks. Today she brought me a ginger beer in from the bar, and when I thanked her she said, "Aye weel, if it was His Nibs working today, ye'd be getting a wee mug o' squash, nae ice, ken?" This can be roughly translated to mean, "Yeah, well, if Drew [the part-owner of the kitchen & bar] was working today, you'd be getting a little bit of concentrated fake-juice stuff with no ice, get it?" It took me a while to get used to working out what Lorraine was saying.
I went to a potluck last night at the PEI girls' flat. Pia was invited as well, which was nice of them. It was a really good time. Pia and I wanted to make a dessert involving whipped cream, forgetting that we don't have anything resembling a mixer. We ended up whipping three pots of double cream (which is what they call whipping cream here, apparently) for ages to get enough whipped cream. The end result was delicious, though, so well worth it.
I think this may be my last week in the kitchen (where I am still working, but I'm only getting around 20 hours a week in total). I signed up for a temp agency this morning, and I think I will take my chances with temping for a while. The lady who runs the agency is very stern and kind of scary, but I think she took a shine to me. So maybe work will be forthcoming. I really really hope so, this is becoming very depressing.
Ah well, hopefully it will all work out. I will sign off with a risselty-rosselty, hey, pomposity, Nickety nackety noo, noo, noo...
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