Life is a series of incurable awakenings that disrupt our blissful slumber every 24 hours or so until we die. The only thing I can think of to aid this transition from paradise (sleep) is to start the day with something so damn upbeat that nothing could possibly go wrong. Spike Milligan wrote a poem about it, and if it was good enough for him then it’s good enough for me.
Growing up, my nana would boil up a big pot of porridge for my cousins and me. We sat at the table underneath the mounted clock that chimed on the hour watching her stir the oats into the milk. It seemed like such an out-dated thing, I remember, to eat porridge and not the other cereals, which were either chocolate or made noises when you ate them. Porridge was so primal, agrarian. On Sundays Dad would make it in the microwave and slop it into some bowls for Mum and I and slowly our Sunday ritual would become that of Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and so on.
Porridge can become quite boring for a child though. Adults need to be aware of that. The knack is to make it sweeter. Some porridge manufacturers tell you to add a bit of salt to the mixture before you heat it. For me, that is unnecessary. You should either add honey to steaming hot porridge, or brown sugar to the dry oat mix. Honey is the healthier option, and brown sugar is not only cheaper but adds a caramel-y flavour. Porridge can be spicy as well, if you want a more aromatic breakfast. One should not be afraid to experiment with the spice-rack (the spices that are reserved for baking) that is: ginger, five spices, cinnamon, nutmeg. My routine differs in summer than it does in winter, I think. I prefer a spicy, more flavoursome porridge in wintertime and a simple, delicately sweet porridge in the warmer months. And always with banana.
I’ve found it really hard to change to other cereals. Like. I just can’t do it. Porridge is a good way to eat dairy-free in the morning when toast just doesn’t cut it. It’s also warmer and more filling and has iron in it and is really cheap – a bag of porridge that lasts me about 10 days is $2.50.
Traditionally porridge is made stovetop. This makes for a relaxing, almost ceremonial breakfast-time in the weekends, but what if busy people during the week want a bowl of porridge before work or school but don’t have the time to mix in the oats for 5-10 mins? Porridge can be made in the microwave as well, and even faster by just blending boiling water into the dry-mix. The latter is my usual method. It thickens up when you keep stirring. And since the jug has already boiled I can have a cup of tea at the same time and read a book with a lot of pictures in it at the dining table. So ideal.
I have only tried my methods with oat-based porridge. There are lots of other variations of porridge, wheat, barley, corn and rice. Maybe I will try those kinds one day though for now I’m pretty comfy with my oat-bowl.