Thursday, 28 December 2017

Doing Porridge (Oats Not Time)

My first thought this morning was: nothing beats soya milk for incredibly creamy porridge. Okay, so maybe that's a little white lie for it wasn't my first thought, but I can't remember the thoughts before that and breakfast, after all, is the most important meal of the day. And this morning my thoughts between spoonfuls turned to the texture and why soya milk gives oats an extra creaminess other dairy-free milks don't. Or can't.
I don't have the exact answer to that, though I think it might have something to do with added oils or emulsifiers, since in my unscientific experiments I've found that the milks that list them one, take longer to bind, and two, don't result in a porridge with the same consistency as that made with soya. But where's the logic in that? Because surely emulsifiers are meant to do exactly that: bind?
And this early morning thought was just meant to be a lead-in to a more pressing random thought I wished to discuss, yet here I still am formulating the merits of this milk against that to make a good bowl of porridge, stove-made and not microwave with rolled oats. Instant, what pap! Oat bran, no thanks! Scottish, well yes, but a little beyond my means when I do eat rather a lot of it, and why pay a premium when an essential bag does me very nicely. Flavoured, yuck! Artificial or otherwise, I add my own fresh or dried fruits, nuts, seeds etc to give it oomph and get me through to lunch.
I heard or read there are championships, but I think (the last I heard) even they've gone a bit hipster, whereas I'm more purist or artisan i.e. don't mess with it too much and keep it as a breakfast staple, although I could, if the cupboards were otherwise bare or I was impaired in some way, eat it at other times of the day. My brain however might think: what the hell? I don't recall having my usual download time. Besides, a bowl in the morning is satisfying in an entirely different way to say, a bowl for lunch or dinner. I imagine...I've not tried as it goes against my principles, which if you hadn't gathered I'll tell it to you straight: I'm a principled person. Even surprisingly (and it's a surprise to me too) in the making and eating of porridge, which to those of you who don't eat breakfast AT ALL and race out the door must seem a very trivial matter. 
I've been known to get up at 5am just to ensure I have a warming bowl of porridge with a few pages of whatever I'm reading. A wolfed-down biscuit would never suffice - how do you do it? - and what a hideous way to start the day: on a stomach fuelled with a takeaway latte and sugar-laden muffin. It won't get you far, although perhaps a little further than nothing.
I've never before considered porridge in this much rich detail, and I have to say it's quite fascinating (to me at any rate), although those of you who were possibly expecting a critical review on Porridge, the British sitcom first broadcast in the 1970s, must be, I imagine, sorely disappointed. If of course you're still here. You may have exited the site sharpish, having realised that Ronnie Barker (Fletcher) wasn't going to get a look-in, let alone a well-worded paragraph. Well done though if you're a first timer and have stuck it out. To here at least. Please stay to the ending, not that I can say with any certainty that in doing so your life will be enriched in any way. But if you've got the time, then stay.
Because for a good couple of years porridge has been all the rage. Just wander down supermarket aisles. Do prisons still serve it I wonder? P'raps not if it's hip to like it. And if it is spooned on trays then it's unlikely to come with extras, excluding salt or sugar; it will be plain oats, possibly rather thin, in other words sloppy. How miserable mornings must be for prisoners who, like me, like theirs on the thick side, and have found (as Goldilocks found) there is a fine line to getting it just right. If I had the misfortune to be an inmate in any secure establishment where each morning I faced a very poor gruel, either far too thick or far too thin, or too plain, then that on its own would be enough for me to snap: “Right that's it, I'm going straight! Or at the very least I must get a job in the kitchen.”

Picture credit: Porridge, Main Title. Source: Wikipedia