Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: Porridge

Friday, February 29, 2008


Granny could say -she does - that she feels called to write her second post in two days because of that once-every-four-years, rare date. 29th February. Every minute of such a day should be savoured: only problem is it feels much like any other day, and here she is in front of her computer trying to gear herself up to starting on a new piece of work, her brain this time full of porridge. Nothing rare there. It is also, probably the real reason she's writing this post, if she's honest. Escape from reality, obligation, that's all. Forget rare date.

Porridge? you ask. Or she does. Porridge comes to mind as legacy of dear old friend who left for her home in Ireland yesterday. Every morning she made herself porridge and a jar still half full of her rolled oats remains. Granny decided to make herself some this morning; she ate it - Scotsmen among you turn away here or else faint with horror - mixed with yogurt, raisins and orange juice which happens to be the way she likes it. She also ate it sitting down, in the doorway leading out to the back patio to be precise, with the radio playing behind very loudly - Beloved who would be shuddering like the rest of you as a good Scot - and doesn't like music played loudly at any time - was out.

Granny's father used to eat his porridge standing up. That's the way men are supposed to, Beloved says - he remembers once being taken by his surgeon father to stay with a Scottish laird somewhere. It was a big house-party. There were a lot of men and at breakfast they all marched round and round the table spooning up their porridge - managing somehow not to bang into one another: Granny envisages it as kind of ballet with the women, sitting at the table, swaying gently in time. She doesn't know whether the women were allowed to eat their porridge seated; or whether they weren't allowed to eat it at all, whether porridge, like whiskey, was reserved for men.

Why were gin and sherry considered suitable drinks for women and not whiskey and port? There's something tribal and taboo about it: Englishmen/Scotsmen - upper-class ones in this case -no less primitive this way - if it is primitive - than any stone-age tribe, with their foods for men and foods for women. As she sips her single malt in front of her Canarian fire, Granny remembers the time she came home from Oxford after developing new tastes: for real coffee on the one hand, considered snooty of her by her parents and far too expensive for every day, whiskey on the other. She really did not like Nescafe; and she hated - still hates - gin. What she liked was real coffee and whiskey. She was baffled by the storm that erupted when asked at six o'clock, the suitable hour for alcohol, if she would like a drink, she answered 'a whiskey, please.' At such an unfeminine request - she hadn't realised it was so unfeminine and would not have cared if she had - she thought her father was going to throw her out of the door: if he didn't have a heart attack first, that is. Weird.

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