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Porridge - better sex, brains, literature?


Oatmeal is currently the rage as it is said to promote "better sex, sharper brains, longevity, lower cholesterol levels, weight loss. . .Oats lower blood pressure, absorb toxins, scour artery walls. . .There seems to be nothing this superfood cannot do except improve interest rates."

My father used to cook porridge for his daughters. I thought of it as Irish food since it came in a silver tin labelled McCann's Irish Oatmeal. The steel-cut oats took longer to prepare and seemed to suit my father's contemplative spirit in the morning.

I soon realized that the Scots assumed pride of ownership in the oat. They had literature to back them up. Kidnapped, still one of my favorite books, tells how porridge sustained Alan and David in their escape from the King's soldiers -

We slept in the cave, making our bed of heather bushes which we cut for that purpose, and covering ourselves with Alan's great-coat. There was a low concealed place, in a turning of the glen, where we were so bold as to make fire: so that we could warm ourselves when the clouds set in, and cook hot porridge, and grill the little trouts that we caught with our hands under the stones and overhanging banks of the burn.

The proverbial "mess of pottage" in Genesis was not actually oatmeal, though I used to think it was.

Perhaps Shakespeare sharpened his wits by eating porridge? "He receives comfort like cold porridge", he wrote in The Tempest.

Exactly! When porridge goes cold and slithery there is nothing less comforting.

On the other hand, a little soaking soon clears the pot, a boon to those who are washing up.

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