The most comforting things in life are often the simplest ones, and hot breakfast cereal is one of the simplest, most comforting ideas around. At least a couple of mornings a week, no matter the weather, I put together a two-serving pot of oatmeal porridge, a.k.a. parritch.
This is where I could go on about the health benefits of porridge as well as its Scottish history, but I won’t. This is about its familiarity and ability to bring comfort.
Porridge is an acquired taste, and one I acquired early. There was a routine to the week where breakfast was concerned. Soft-boiled eggs and varieties of hot cereal each had their day, but oatmeal had two. Cold cereals were assigned to Saturday only, and Sunday was for the traditional bacon and egg breakfast. My Dad was the chief breakfast maker for a large part of my childhood, and the one who taught me the mysteries of the porridge pot. I was a new bride, and having discovered that my husband shared my liking for the breakfast staple, I went to Dad for these instructions: “Use the big copper-bottomed pot and put this much rolled oats in it. Then stir with a wooden spoon while adding cold water until it feels right. Put in this much salt and cook until it is done.” The wonder is that I was ever able to make anything edible with this lesson. I did not have the requisite pot, nor did I know what “right” felt like in the porridge world, and I was no longer in a household of up to nine souls, so did not need nearly the amount of cereal my Dad made. I did learn to make a passable pot of porridge and it has remained a regular staple in my home. I think of my Dad now, every time I stir that water into the raw oats, and now know that when it stirs easily with just a small mount of resistance, I have the proportions “right”. I have since taught my grandson the same skills, though he is much more likely to follow the package-recommended proportions.
Please take a moment to answer a poll question. I will publish the results in a week or two.
FYI, I usually put Demerara sugar and skim milk on mine. The banana slices were for the photo, and I may just do it more often, with less sugar than usual.
One thought on “Friday’s Small Comforts #3: Eat your Parritch!”
I like the Irish steel cut variety of oats but they take a long time to cook, about 20-30 minutes. So I do not make it often. I like it with bananas, brown sugar, walnuts, raisins and milk. There is a restaurant in LA called John O’Groats that specialized in hot cereal.