PORRIDGE: “chiefly British a dish consisting of oatmeal or another meal or cereal boiled in water or milk” (Oxford English dictionary)
GRUEL: “a thin liquid food of oatmeal or other meal boiled in milk or water.” (Oxford English Dictionary)
Remarkably similar descriptions aren’t they? Grey, glutinous, gloop. I have had a dim view of porridge for most of my adult life. And yet my family have historically been fans of this ‘breakfast of champions’.
My Grandpa ate a bowl of porridge every morning along with a portion of prunes to keep him ‘regular’ , which says it all really!. The porridge was made with water and not sweetened but instead seasoned with a pinch of salt – real porridge for real men. My Dad is also a fan of porridge. Mum routinely prepared a batch in the trusty slow cooker of an evening where it would happily gloopify all night long ready to be dished up for breakfast. Again it was a strictly water and salt affair.
Tampering with this tried and tested formula was sneered at and so I chose sugar puffs. However this blog is in praise of porridge; for despite the shaky start to my education in porridge, I am now an avid fan.
The first indication I had that porridge need not be a form of torture was during a stint working as a chamber maid in Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, where the breakfast menu included “porridge laced with brandy and double cream”, sounded tasty.
However, it is not until recently that I have fully embraced this oaty feast, and now that I am out of ‘sneer’ shot of my family I feel free to tamper with “real man’s porridge”.
Here are my current favourite porridge combinations: Grab a couple of handfuls of porridge oats and chuck em’ in the pan along with milk, cinnamon, sultanas and a very generous drizzle of honey. Cook on a slow heat until nice and smooth (not gloopy) and pour – voila! Healthy and tasty. I often add chopped banana, a handful of blueberries or chopped nuts at the end, depending on how the mood takes me.
Not sure if it is correct to include my cold oaty brekkie in an article about porridge, but its my blog so I shall. It is adapted from traditional Swiss Bircher Museli. Before going up to bed, I throw a good couple of handfuls of porridge oats and sultanas into a bowl and add apple juice – just enough to cover. The next morning I stir a nice big teaspoon of honey and enough yogurt to give it a nice smooth (not too runny) consistency. Again, depending on what takes my fancy on the day, I finish by adding a combination of grated apple, chopped banana, blueberries and nuts.
There are lots of simple recipe ideas out there for both porridge and bircher but I suggest you just freestyle on this one, it makes breakfast much more of an adventure.
So let’s hear it for porridge – my breakfast of champions!!