Sunday, October 14, 2007

Breakfast: Porridge

Growing up, my oatmeal (or, as it were, porridge) experience came from two different angles. At home, winter breakfast meant Ready Brek, an instant hot cereal best known for ads that suggested a bowlful would give kids a visible aura of warmth (and yes, I was always disappointed when I couldn't see mine). It was quick, easy to make, creamy and comforting.

My grandmother's porridge was at the other end of the scale in terms of prep: the oats required constant observation and non-stop stirring, lest they stick and burn. The result was a thick, rich concoction, finished with a drizzle of honey. It was great--real stick-to-the-ribs stuff--but I had to wonder whether the effort was really worth it. You could make, eat and clean up after your Ready Brek in the same amount of time.

These days, we fall somewhere in the middle: we buy oats that take only a few minutes to cook--not completely instant, but not far off--and add dried cranberries, apricots and dates, crystallized ginger, fresh-ground nutmeg.

I thought that was pretty inventive. And then I read about the
Golden Spurtle, which sounds like some adults-only Harry Potter adventure, but is actually the world porridge-making championship, held in Carrbridge, Scotland. Now in its fourteenth year, it consists of two sections: traditional (using just oats, salt and water) and specialty (oats plus a "blending and harmony" of other ingredients).

What impressed me most was not that the porridge should be referred to in the third-person plural, nor that the spurtle should be "stirred clockwise using the right hand so as not to invoke the devil," nor even
what a spurtle is.

No, the coolest fact was that the winner of the specialty division (whose scene-stealing dish was apparently oatmeal topped with applesauce--hardly outside-the-bowl thinking) owns
The Porridge Bowl, a mobile oatmeal truck.

And--even better--he's not the only one. There's also a chain,
Stoat's Porridge Bar. Check out that line!

I wish I lived on a porridge truck route.


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Blogger KP said...

Why the change of title? Has the International Spurtle Naming Triumvirate (ISN'T) lodged a protest?

5:46 PM  

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