No statesman or ambassador ever uttered, "Love of offal can bring nations together." But if Bill McFadden, 71, had been a statesman, he'd likely have said exactly that. It's McFadden, after all, brought the Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebration to Seattle four years ago.
And it's McFadden who will serve the first ceremonial Haggis with plum sauce today to mark the shared celebration of the Scottish national meal of stuffed sheep stomach and Chinese Lunar New Year. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
"Well sure, it might seem unusual to some people," McFadden concedes between breaks as he races to set up the 300-person dinner today at 5 p.m. "But, you know, every culture has a version of offal, be it hotdogs, bratwurst or Haggis. And at Gung Haggis Fat Choy everyone has a great time."
The Gung Haggis is the invention of Canadian Todd Wong (aka Toddish McWong.) As Canadian college student 12 years ago, he noticed that annual Scottish tradition of reading Robert Burns ode to Haggis "Address to a Haggis," and the Chinese Lunar New Year happened at roughly the same time.So Wong, working on his degree at Simon Fraser University, took the Chinese greeting "Gung Hay Fat Choy" (Wishing You Happiness) and combined it with Haggis. He planned an event and immediately it caught on. Four years ago, McFadden attended the Gung Haggis in Vancouver, B.C.
"And I thought we could do it here," he says. He was right. The first, in 2007, pulled in about 200 people. Within two years, it grew to 400 and featured both Chinese and Scottish dancers and musicians, the annual reading of Burn's poem and foods from both countries.
Most popular is the Haggis with plum sauce.
"Last year, people ate every speck," McFadden said. "It's really quite good." The dinner is today at 5 p.m. at the Ocean City Restaurant.