Heidi and I were invited to the St. Andrew’s Ball…our first “high society” invite. Now a ball is not something a woman can prepare for last minute….NO, it takes planning and preparation. There is the dress to buy, and not just any dress…NO, it has to be a gown! Allie accompanied Heidi to the Pavilion Mall with the goal of finding said gown. Found a gorgeous blue one at the first shop they entered. Of course, no gown is complete without a purse… they came up with a nice little black clutch with a little bling. Allie was disappointed that Heidi didn’t select the bag with silver spikes, a skeleton head and a built-in glove for your hand that looked a bit like brass knuckles!!! (Wish we had a picture of that one) Shoes…nothing in Heidi’s size but luckily she had a pair with some small heels that would work. Then there were the nails, and the hair, and…..well, you get the picture. For me, I pulled out my wedding/funeral suit and was ready to go.
The ball was held in one of the big ballrooms in the DoubleTree Hotel…pretty fancy spot. Well over 300 attendees…we mingled about the foyer sipping on wine, munching of crackers, chit-chatting, until the pipers marched through the crowd and led us into the ballroom. Our table, lucky number 7, came with accessories…4 bottles of wine, a bottle of whiskey, and two bottles of champagne. The first course, Tartar of Tomato and Avocado served with a salad of baby lettuce, mint scented young peas and apple and celeriac slaw. Translation: a small bit of guacamole dip with tomatoes on top with some other vegies scattered around the plate for looks. (It was very tasty…just not much of it!!!) Next came the HAGGIS. But before the haggis could be served, there had to be the Haggis Ceremony. The piper led in several women carrying bottles of whiskey to the front of the dance floor. There on a table was HAGGIS. You may ask, what is Haggis?
Direct from Wikipedia: Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours.
So, there on the table was a large stomach filled with Haggis. The Chieftain of the St. Andrew’s Society addressed the Haggis with a Robert Burns poem, ODE TO HAGGIS. It is quite a lengthy poem of which he had memorized….when he came to this verse:
His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
He took out his knife, with at least an 8 inch blade, and sliced the haggis several times, allowing the simmering innards to escape from the stomach lining. Very appetizing, wouldn’t you say? After the poem, we stood and made a toast to the Haggis. The pipers then led the ladies with the whiskey out of the room. Almost magically, waiters appeared carrying platters of Haggis, along with Neeps and Tatties (mashed potatoes and turnips). Heidi passed. Rami passed. I had to try it…at least a “no thank you helping”. My neighbor at the table, a lovely elderly woman (she and her husband own a huge tea plantation) gave me directions. She said, “I can’t stand the bloody stuff unless I cover it up with whiskey. The more whiskey you add, the better it tastes.” I added whiskey. Let me tell you, there was not enough whiskey at the table to make it taste good…but I mixed it with the Tatties and was able to get it all down. Haggis has been added to my “tried it/don’t like it” list alongside durian and lutefisk.
The main coarse was Pan-roasted chicken breast stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese accompanied with potato gratin, market vegetables and sauce Diane….well done, delicious. Dessert brought us warm tropical almond crumble with peppered frozen yoghurt ice cream and berries stew, followed by coffee, petit fours and Scottish Tablet. After several more toasts, it was time for dancing.
First a group of children from the finest school in all of Kuala Lumpur, The International School of Kuala Lumpur, entertained the crowd….we were quite proud of our kids!!! They left the stage and the “Fantastic Rusty Nail Celidh Band” took their place on drums, fiddle, accordion and guitar, the Scottish music began and the dancers took the floor.
Heidi and I had planned on just watching the festivities. Unlike many of the others who either grew up with Scottish jigs or who recently took lessons, we knew none of the steps. But the Scots are a friendly bunch so Scotsman in kilt grabbed Heidi and a lovely lass grabbed me, and onto the dance floor we were led. The first dance you start side by side and the woman does these spins, you come back together, the woman does more spins, and so on. Well, before the dancing began, the women all changed into their dancing shoes…flat little things, no heel at all. The Scotsman who grabbed Heidi, just assumed that Heidi had on her dancing shoes. He was expertly guiding Heidi into one of the many spins when her heel caught on the carpet and CRASH….down they went onto a table number 9, knocked over the champagne and ice bucket, broke dishes, etc. I looked over to see my lovely wife on the floor in some pain. She badly sprained several fingers on her right hand. Quite traumatic. Her partner also hurt his hand, cut it on one of the glasses….but the ball must go on. We helped everyone to our table, the waiters cleaned everything up in wink of an eye, the band continued playing and the dance went on.
Heidi recovered nicely and wished it had been recorded….might have gone viral. So we left the ball behind, took a taxi home and iced her hand till she fell asleep. Thus completed our first ball. Quite memorable. Our only regret…we didn’t get to take the whiskey home!!!!