I can’t bear the taste of porridge but there is something about the ritual of making it that is like a mixture between a security blanket and an intimate dance.
This morning was one of those mornings when it seemed only right to offer to make porridge as hubby was heading off for a consultation about his beyond excruciating back pain and associated sciatica.
Father would have had the oats steeping since last night as he insisted that freshly made porridge wasn’t a patch on that made from the well-soaked oats. How often I sat at the kitchen table chatting to him as he carefully measured out the cup of Flahavan’s oats and two and a half cups of water and readied the lot in the ‘porridge pot’ on the front right ring on the cooker. He’d even get the wooden spoon out of the drawer and have it laid in readiness for morning.
As a kid, I used to sit up on the high stool and stir the porridge and have it simmering and bubbling, oh so gently, for Father when he’d arrive into the kitchen, making sure there were no kinks in his braces. I’d also have collected the bottles of milk from the doorstep and placed one by his place.
Roles reversed now, he’d sit at the kitchen table as I carefully spooned out the porridge into his big blue and white willow patterned plate.
He’d have removed the tin cap from the milk bottle and would pour the creamy bit onto the porridge which he’d have lavished with a couple of dessert spoons of castor sugar. I knew that the dance was done when The Irish Times rose as a papery barrier between us.
Mother was a porridge person too but had a much less ritualised approach to it. No that’s not true, really, and that became very obvious when she was convalescing from a major operation and had hired the services of a ‘housekeeper’ for the first crucial week at home. On Evening I, the housekeeper went to Mother’s room to get her order for breakfast. I was there perched on her bed, all excited to have her home!
Mother said to the middle-aged woman: I’d like a small plate of porridge with a drop of milk and salt. I’m half Scottish. And a pot of tea, please.
The housekeeper repeated: Yes, Mrs Tubridy: that’ll be porridge, tea and a half Scotch.
Words never forgotten! I wondered this morning if I should have given hubby a half or even a full Scotch with his porridge and insisted on driving him to his appointment!