The bag tore.
Prep had gone just fine. We listened to Mendelssohn, Great Big Sea, Ray
Charles, Barber, and of course lots and lots of piping.. The musicians accompanying Buckley tonight —
Pam, Andy and Kevin, playing combos of guitar, bass, bhoran, fiddle and
bagpipes — came over for a rehearsal jam at noon. It’s about 4:45, and they’re still plucking
away as I type this.
We boiled ground lamb and sheep hearts and livers. We measured dry
oatmeal, mixed spices, chopped onions (2 white, 1 yellow, 1/2 red), and
mixed it all in bowls with clean, clean hands. We filled a heavy
plastic bag with enough haggis to feed a clan army, tied it off, poked
a couple of steam holes in it, and placed it in a pot of boiling water.
Half an hour later, Pam took off, the lads had jetted off for a coffee
run, and I after loading the dishwasher made an innocent turn of the
haggis. The bag tore, and came up in my hand as haggis streamed into the pot beneath.
I yelled, I swore, I grabbed for pots and collanders. I strained the water into a pot, separated the haggis into a skillet and called the lads to tell them what was up. They pondered while ordering java, and I hit Google for ideas. No dice. The skillet was a decent for-the-moment solution — but you cook haggis in a bag of some sort, dammit. It just isn’t right otherwise.
Buckley returned, swept into the kitchen and grabbed my kukri. He had a
clean white cotton cloth that we then fashioned into a bag for
the haggis. It’s now boiling away, and so far, nothing has broken. Update 1/30/05: End of euphemism time. It was “cotton cloth”, as we joked for the rest of the night. But let’s put it this way: Buckley gave the shirt off his back for haggis. He was wearing a white t-shirt (yes, clean), that he stripped off, grabbed my kukri and sliced off the sleeves, then tied everything off and turned it and some cheesecloth into a haggis bag. You are a good, good man, Chris Buckley.
Haggis can also test a man’s ability to respond to a crisis, even if
it’s just a ripped bag. Through some good teamwork, fast thinking and a
hella sharp knife, I think we’ve come through in style.
Buckley just walked back, grinning. "It’s going to be a good night," he said.
It’s just shy of 5 o’clock. We leave for the Burns supper at 6. The
haggis will be done a little before we leave, and we will be cleaned up
and ready to party.
It will be a good, good night, indeed.