Learning to love porridge needn’t be a gruelling ordeal


Learning to love porridge needn’t be a gruelling ordeal

Heston Blumenthal attempted to glamourise porridge but by and large it’s not given the respect it deserves

Andrea Burgener

Researchers think our species had a liking for boiled hot mush from as far back as 12,000 years ago. It may even be that slop in a bowl was responsible for the initial population explosion of humankind: before the days of porridge or blenders, most food was pretty chewy – whether meat, leafy veg or tubers – and babies had to get sustenance from breast milk for some years. Breastfeeding acts as a contraceptive for many women, so once babies were weaned earlier ... well, it was downhill from there. That’s just one theory ...

Porridge has history, but somehow it’s never managed to have pedigree. It had a brief moment of glamour when Heston Blumenthal threw some snails into oats, and it got some good PR in Goldilocks, but by and large it’s not given the respect it deserves. In fact, for many people, porridge is penance. That, I have to tell you, is not the fault of the porridge, but of the criminally selfish and soulless individuals who make and serve it without care. Nobody can be expected to get through a tepid, lumpy bowl of mushy starch, unseasoned and possibly boasting a skin on top.  

But if you approach it from a different perspective – that of an almost sinful treat (and it is, nutritionally speaking, something of a dessert) – and cook, embellish and serve it with the same attention you would bestow on a steamed pudding or great soup, it will be glorious. Even noble...

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