To Bonnie Scotland and Old Blighty with B16

Pope Benedict XVI leaves the House of Parliament in London Sept. 17. CNS photo/Luke MacGregor, Reuters

Thanks once again to EWTN, we’ve been following along on B16’s state visit to Scotland and England. Yesterday, we were able to sit in the living room and watch as the pope was warmly greeted at the airport by Prince Philip and then went to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh where he was welcomed by the Queen.

During the coverage which included the St. Ninian’s Parade, it became clear that St. Ninian’s Day — which celebrates the saint credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland — is a big deal indeed in Scotland. It inspired us to do a search on this early Christian holy man. You might enjoy checking out one of the sites we discovered:

With breaks here and there, we tuned back in for Mass at the Bellahouston Park in Glascow where crowds, though not at the extreme overflow level we’ve come to expect for a papal visit, were still none-the-less, quite spectacular. Though pundits had predicted light crowds and heavy protests, TV and press coverage — even the secular press — has clearly shown the reverse is true.  The crowds that welcomed the pope on his way into the stately city of Edinburgh and turned out in Glascow were large and loving while, saints be praised, the protests seemed on the small and rather silly side.

Here’s hoping the same holds true in England over the next two days.  Blighty, by the way, is English slang for Britain. It’s a zezty kind of word that always gives me a kick to use and so use it in the headline, I did.

Before heading off the the Pastoral Center this morning, it was terrific to see the pontiff at “The Big Assembly” as it was called, for England’s 2,000 (can you believe it!) Catholic schools. What an uplifting and fine way to start the day!

An ecumenical gathering followed during which was very moving. Find the details and speeches at The Catholic Herald, a newspaper I read with great gusto on a regular basis:

One of the subjects that got some coverage from the press along the way was the menu for the luncheon served up for the pope by Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien which included haggis, the murky, intestinal “pudding” that’s a Scottish national dish. Aargh!

Pope Benedict and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey. CNS photo/Adrian Dennis, pool via Reuters

Our family has a mandatory dollop of haggis every January while lurching merrily into the historical mist to tap our miniscule bit of lowland Scottish heritage. In honor of our dad’s fine treatment by the Glaswegians during the war when they discoverd his slight connection (by marriage) to the Scots, we celebrate the national poet of Scotland – Robert Burns – with a pretty watered down version of a traditonal “Burns Night Dinner.”

Haggis is a must for this meal and curiously enough, it is conveyed with pomp and ceremony into the house every year by our good and otherwise very Jesuitical friend, Joe Serrada, an Italian-Catholic, who, for reasons known only to himself, requires all of us to taste it. Actually, it’s a lot like a strong liverwurst and goes down ok with crackers.

I wouldn’t force a recipe for it on anyone though, so, in honor of the pope’s visit, I offer recipes I would have made for lunch on the day he visited if only someone had asked me. For my money, nothing in the world is better than Scottish salmon, smoked, salted, baked or broiled, except maybe, Irish salmon. So, I’ve adapted a recipe for Traditional Scottish Baked Salmon from the internet along with the Scottish version of colcannon — mashed potatoes and cabbage — which, in Scotland, goes by the name of rumbledethumps.

Traditional Baked Scottish Salmon with Tarragon

Ingredients: 4 salmon fillets; 1 small, finely chopped sweet onion; 2 slices of thin bacon, diced; 3/4 stick sweet butter; quarter teaspoon dried tarragon; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; large sheet of buttered aluminum foil; creme fraiche if you can find it in the supermarket, Greek yogurt if you can’t.

Directions: pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Saute the onion in butter in a pan until soft and golden. Add the bacon and tarragon and cook for another two minutes; then stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

Place a large piece of buttered kitchen foil in an ovenproof dish, place the salmon fillets on this and cover with the onion and bacon mixture. Fold over the foil and seal to make a parcel. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve with a teaspoonful of thick cream or creme fraiche.


Ingredients: 1 pound boiled and mashed potatoes; 1 pound boiled cabbage, drained; 1 ounce butter; salt and black pepper.

Directions: mash the potatoes and finely chop the cabbage and mix in a large saucepan in with the butter has been melted. Keep the saucepan over a low heat to keep it hot. Season to taste and serve piping hot. You can also put the mix into a greased oven-proof dish and bak at 400 degrees until the top is brown.


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