Porridge In the Spotlight
Porridge, that most Scottish of breakfast dishes, is having something of a resurgence. It's having its avocado-toast moment. Health-conscious
trend-setting eaters are rediscovering porridge and experimenting with ways to tweak and modernize it. But porridge is a classic. This dish --
slow-cooked ground oats
-- is simply grains cooked in water, with salt added. Plus milk or cream. It doesn't need to be rethought or upgraded.
People have been eating it for centuries because it's good, hearty, satisfying, affordable and healthy. Porridge has its share of lore, too.
There's a special stirring tool -- a spurtle -- which is basically a wooden spoon with a pointy end to keep the oats from sticking to the inside
corners of a pot. As it happens, there is an annual Golden Spurtle Award given to the best-tasting porridge, with the event, the World Porridge Making Championship
, taking place in the Scottish Highland village of Carrbridge.
Legend has it that porridge was always eaten standing up, so that the clansmen could be ready to be called to arms at a
moment's notice. Traditionally porridge was served with a bowl of cream or milk, and each spoonful of hot porridge would be dipped or dunked in the cool liquid. Scots will snort at the idea of adding sugar or other sweeteners to porridge, but of course many Americans like to drizzle maple
syrup, honey, fresh berries or dried fruit on their porridge. Some swirl in a scoop of yogurt. You can even find recipes for adult variations on
traditional porridge that involve adding unsweetened cocoa powder to the cooking water, changing the color of the finished product and adding a
bitter nutty edge to the dish. Some people bake a sweet potato and mash that into the mix. No matter how you spin it, good porridge starts with
high-quality oats ground or cut and then cooked to a creamy consistency.