Mr President / Gentlemen
Before I extol the virtues of the wonderful stovies and present the case for accepting this culinary delight as Scotland's national dish – a few wee words about my worthy opponent The Haggis.
Now as a Burns club of course we are all inclined to have a little soft spot for the Haggis –after all we go to great pains every year making sure we fly one in from somewhere beyond our Nova Scotian shores and then of course someone gives the wee beasty a richt guid stabbing as he recites one of Burn's most famous works. But I beseech you gentlemen, just for one moment, put aside your fondness for the wee broon monster, cast away the romanticism attached to this ubiquitous ball of meat confusion and accept just for these few moments that the Haggis has been slain, its gushing entrails bricht will no longer find there way to your mouth, no longer will the haggis torment your intestines or worse still provide you with that warm reekin and highly explosive gas found lurking in the hallways of the Delta after a Burns Supper.
Make no mistake ...Burns penned an address to the haggis. But that dusnae mean he liked it!! After all he also had an address to the Deil', an address to toothache' and God forbid even an address to Edinburgh!! So clearly he may have respected the haggis but there is no words anywhere – in any text or any letters that he actually ate that boiled abomination! Burns has always been noted for his smarts, his intelligence, his tremendous skills as a visionary – perhaps he knew that keeping the hearts, liver lungs, brains, and nether regions of a sheep at the safe end of a pen rather than in your mouth was the way to go!
So Mr President/ gentlemen – Stovies! What can I say – Talk about visionary! As we strive in this world today to find ways of reducing our carbon footprint, to find more economical ways of living our lives, to care for our environment, to find new and innovative methods to reduce waste and reuse what we can. Gentlemen the world's best kept secret has been providing sustenance for generations of Scottish families, and at the same time hitting every eco friendly target right on the nose!
Stovies – is the only dish in the world designed specifically for left over food. Contrary to popular opinion the word has nothing to do with a stove! In auld Scots to "stove" was to "stew" and as with many of the auld Scots words probably derived from a French word – in this case "e'tuve'e" meaning to steam or braise.
So consider this the Sunday roast has met the needs and desires of the family – and what a feast it was! Roast beef, Potatoes, Carrots, Some Brussel Sprouts, and perhaps a wee bit of delicious gravy. Unlike our many present day establishments where the leftovers go in the "green bin". Stovies are a fine example of rethink, reuse and reserve.
No matter what the main course meat Stovies will gladly accept. Whether, its beef pork or lamb, sausage, liver or ham – simply stew it up with some good ol' lard or dripping, and some nicely boiled potatoes and you have a hearty meal that will last you well into the week. It has been known that in some thrifty Scottish households for the Stovies to last all week !! How's that for the environment!! And not a bit of hazardous gas to speak of. Not only that but my worthy contender ....Mr ...and his haggis can even be found in the Ayrshire regional variation of Stovies. Yes if you go to the Burns Birthpace Museum in Alloway – pay a visit to the café and there you will find – proudly positioned at the top of the menu – Haggis Stovies. How's that for recognition? how's that for a champion dish? How's that for a an admission that stovies really is the national dish and that haggis is merely an regional ingredient.
Gentlemen It would be remiss of me not share with you the secret recipe of stovies that has been passed down through the ages – with a slightly Aberdonian slant to the Scots language gentlemen – I give you Stovies.
Tak' a puckle tatties – Kerr's Pink's a g uid bet, though ony maincrap'll dae.
Pare ' em, an' slice 'em thin - kine.
Drap 'em in a suppie watter, forbyes they micht gan' broon.
Syne tak' an ingin or twa, an' peel an' dice.
Noo, here's the tricky bit.
Y'see, history's a wee bit contermashious.
Some wa d say stovies need a bit o' beef.
Ithers wad say, stovies wiz invented 'cos there wiz NAE beef tae be had.
Noo, me, I sweer stovies shouldna hae beef.
For the only reason we eat stovies, is 'cos we were fair scunnnered o' tatties in ony ither shape or form.
Bit if ye r e ally wint tae gie yer stovies a wee bit o' extra flavour, add a couple o' rashers o' smokey bacon.
I ken it's nae traditional, bit this is progress!
Okay, here's fit ye dae.
Heat a pucklie ile in an aul' pan.
It his tae be an aul' pan, 'cos t he stovies are only stovies if they're welded tae the bottom.
An' ye widna want tae dae that tae a guid pan, wid ye?
It can be ony kine o' ile ye like – olive, corn, whale, engine . . .
Syne cut up a bittie smokey bacon – posh fowk use lardons, fitivver th ey are.
Hayve it in i' pan, an' fry a bittie.
Syne hayve in i' ingins, an' fry a bittie mair.
Fan they're a bittie birsled, hayve in i' tatties, an' rummle 'em aroon' for a whilie.
Noo it's cheatin' time.
We nivver hid stock cubes in the true stovie days.
Bit a ham cube is movin wi' the times.
Sae's a dash o' L ea & P errins .
Saut an' pepper, a suppie bilin' watter, an' simmer for twa or three days.
Weel, 'at's a bit o' an exaggeration.
Probably twa 'oors'll dae.
As lang as they're biled dry an' welded tae the pan.
The scrapin's are the best bit.
Serve wi' oatcakes an' beetroot, an' a big gless o' milk.
Syne a guid dram for efters.
© Mike Clark 2002
Like the original Tarbolton Club, our organization holds debates on topics of interest from time to time.
In February 2014 we considerd the issue of "Scotland's National Dish: Haggis or Stovies?"
Here is the argument in favour of Stovies from club member and past president David Glover