diamond geezer

 Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Doing porridge

Until last week I wouldn't have dreamed of having porridge for breakfast. I mean, porridge? It's not had a good press, has it? Goldilocks had trouble finding porridge at the right temperature. Oliver Twist could never get enough gruel to fill his echoing stomach. And those Ready Brek kids from the 1970s used to glow red like they'd spent the night inside a nuclear reactor. Porridge certainly isn't the breakfast of choice for the modern generation. It's been outstripped by muesli, and croissants, and extra-sugar pre-diabetic chocoflakes with marshmallow floaty bits. Even a full fat fry-up has a higher media profile than porridge. But I'm not allowed a full fat fry-up any more, so porridge it is.

When adjusting one's diet to lower cholesterol, porridge is apparently the way to go. Its oaty structure acts like a "cholesterol hoover" in your veins, so I'm told, in much the same way that gobbling oily fish unclogs your tubes and makes you healthier. So, it's either herrings for breakfast or it's porridge. I've plumped for the latter. Except, oh dear, porridge isn't exactly tasty is it?

I bought a trial box of porridge oats on my first tentative post-diet supermarket excursion last week. What a depressing occasion that was. I was forced to bypass some of my favourite aisles (sorry no pies, sorry no biscuits, sorry no cake, sorry) in favour of new and unexpected haunts. Welcome to the low-fat healthy eating area. It was all so unfamiliar, and almost nauseatingly wholesome. Erm, right, so this is the porridge section is it? Oh dear, not a mouth watering prospect.

The following morning I poured out my first bowl of porridge for my inaugural breakfast experience. As I ripped open the packet I accidentally managed to cover half the kitchen with a thin layer of finely milled dust. Damn, wasn't expecting that. A few minutes with a cloth later and I was busy reading the packet, having suddenly realised that I had no idea what one actually does with porridge. Ah, OK, boiling milk. But whipping out a saucepan smacked rather too much of washing up. Was there an alternative option? Yup, good, microwave. I mixed in some appropriately skimmed milk and waited for the ping.

And what do you know, the resulting stodge tasted absolutely foul. Like some sort of papier maché or wallpaper paste (not that I know what either of those taste like, you understand, I'm just guessing). Ugh. I rushed back to the kitchen to throw in a handful of dried fruit - rather a large handful just to be on the safe side - and then shovelled the gloopy gruel down my gullet as fast as humanly possible. Never again.

On Day 2 I read the instructions on the packet again and realised that the ratio of oats to milk was probably crucial. So I risked another attempt, spooning the correct measure of wood shavings into my bowl and then stirring in a precise number of millilitres of cow juice. And that tasted a bit better. Still not in any way delicious or even appetising, but potentially bearable every single morning for the next 40 years. Sigh.

On Day 3 I got overconfident. I thought I knew what I was doing, guessed at the proportions and managed to mix myself another thick mound of steaming glue. The perfect porridge combination isn't yet second nature. Or maybe I should be using water instead of milk, I dunno. I'll get the hang of it eventually. And now this morning, as I post today's blog over breakfast, I'm staring not quite excitedly at yet another pool of oaty stodge. I'm sure it'd be lovely with a big dollop of chocolate sauce swirled into the middle. Sigh, chocolate. I remember chocolate.

Diet update: 1 week in
Chocolate: nil;   Chips: nil;   Crisps: nil
Cheese: two thin slices of tasteless low-fat plastic
Weight lost: damn, nil
Porridge: too much already


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